Lorelai (Inspired) Music

In my last post, I mentioned one of the reasons I started craving Gilmore was from listening to a mix I made a few years back. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve listened to it at least once a day. It’s pretty darn good, if I do say so myself, so I thought I’d share it with you all.

When I first put the mix together, I had an explanation for every song. Now that it’s been a few years, I don’t remember my exact reasoning for all of them. (Or, in some cases I do, but my reasons are way too dorky, even for this blog.) Explanations will be given when appropriate. The theme is music inspired by Lorelai Gilmore, so sometimes, I just think – were she real, she’d dig the song.

Without further adieu: Lorelai (Inspired) Music Continue reading

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Just what are you saying, Mr. Joel?

Every time I hear the song This Night by Billy Joel*, I think to myself, “This would make an excellent wedding song.” I picture a couple dancing (maybe me, maybe not), enjoying the intimate moment on the dance floor, celebrating their first night as a married couple. It’s perfect.

Or is it?

Because the song could also just be about having sex. I mean, think about it: “Tomorrow is such a long time away, this night we are together.”

It could also be the anthem for a stalker. “This night, you’re mine. It’s only you and I.” Taken in that context, it’s kinda creepy.

I’d like to think that Billy Joel wrote the song with good intentions, and he probably did. But still…could I have been fooled all these years? Could This Night be akin to The Police’s Every Breath You Take?

Creepy or not, it’s still a great song, and one of my favorite from the Joel catalogue. (Second only to [obviously] Scenes from an Italian Restaurant, Summer Highland Falls, and possibly Vienna.)

Give a listen: What do you think? Safe for a wedding, or would we creep everyone out?

*Yes, that’s right, Internet. I am coming out as a Billy Joel fan. I grew up listening to him on car trips and family vacations. He’s like home.

K-E-L-L-Y: The best musical moments on TV

Lists, lists, we got yer lists here!

I don’t know why I am constantly making up pointless lists about TV in my head. That’s just me.  And yes, I’ve done it again. After the Glee album was released a few weeks ago, I started thinking about my favorite Glee moments, which led to thinking about my favorite TV musical moments. That led to me making a list of said favorites, which brings us here.

Before I begin, a few things: First, I’ve not seen every show out there. These are just some of my favorite moments. I know, for instance, that Ally McBeal was chock-full of musical performances. Unfortunately, I’ve never seen it. Ditto for the first four seasons of American Idol. Second, by musical moments, I do not mean montages. I mean characters actually singing, or music being used effectively in a scene. (But there are a few exceptions for truly outstanding montages that could not be ignored.) Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a musical montage. But the list is long enough already; if I included every musical montage I loved, I’d be writing this entry forever.

Ready? Okay, here we go, in no particular order. Continue reading

Glee soundtrack, Volume I

As you may or may not know, I am not usually one for spoilers. While I don’t mind knowing who is going to guest star on How I Met Your Mother or The Big Bang Theory, I REALLY don’t want to know what’s happening next on Dexter or Friday Night Lights, or who’s getting kicked off Project Runway.

Similarly, I have enjoyed all the surprises of Glee so far this season. This includes both plot lines (Rachel and Puck? Brilliant!) and the songs they perform. While I knew that Kristen Chenoweth was going to be on the show at some point, I didn’t know when, and seeing her show up and sing a dueling pianos version of “Maybe This Time” with Rachel was a major thrill.

With that in mind – today the first volume of the Glee soundtrack was released, and so of COURSE I went to get it on my lunch break. I figured that it would just have the songs from the first half of the season – i.e. what we’ve already seen. It did – along with two extras that I assume we’ll hear sometime this month. While I’m disappointed about being a little spoiled, the tracks are so good, they pretty much make up for ruining the surprise.

SPOILERS BELOW ON THE LAST TWO TRACKS!!! Continue reading

Best of the obscure

This post is brought to you by one part disappointment, one part nostalgia.

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A friend has asked me to make her a Best of U2 mix. This is proving to be a lot harder than I thought. In fact, it might be the hardest mix I’ve ever made. Don’t get me wrong – there is nothing I enjoy more than putting together a good music compilation. So, I’m having a good time.

The problem is, U2 has a ton of great songs. Best of? Almost every song is a classic! So far, I have it narrowed down to, erm…70. (I’m working on it, I swear. But I honestly don’t know what to cut from the list of 70. Do you NEED the original version of “Stay” as well as the mind-blowing live version? Yes, yes you do. Does almost every song from Achtung Baby need to be on there? Well, it’s only their best album, so duh. Welcome to my brain for the last few days.)

Anyway. So, I’m not going to see their tour this time around. Despite my love for almost everything they’ve done ever, I’m not too excited about their latest effort. I hate that I don’t love it.

I was totally fine with my decision until I started working on this mix. Then I remembered how much I love The Boys, and that they put on a show like no one else. So I looked to see if tickets were still available.  They are – but only behind the stage. And, though there is not really a bad seat in at a U2 concert, behind the stage is not ideal. I don’t mind being high up in the nosebleeds, so long as I’m facing the stage. So…woe is me. Pity me. For the first time since 1997, I’m not seeing my beloved foursome on tour.

But hey, you didn’t click over here to read about me feeling sorry for myself. So, let’s get on with it.

Making this mix has also reminded me that U2 has so many hidden gems. Not breakout hits, these aren’t songs one would think about putting on a “best of” collection. Well, OK, so a few might actually be on The Best of U2, but they aren’t songs people remember when they think about U2. Not a “Streets” or “One” in the mix.

Without further adieu, here are some hidden gems in U2’s catalogue.

Closer to you every day. Didn’t want it that much anyway.
“Gone” (from Pop)
When Pop first came out, my friend and fellow U2 fanatic said she believed the song was about Bono’s Mr. MacPhisto from the ZooTV tour. I don’t know if she was right. But I do know this is one of my favorites from the album. See for yourself below. Also: The Edge is a fucking badass.

Love is hard, and love is tough. But love is not what you’re thinking of.
“Please” (from Pop)
One of the best songs about religion, written by a Christian talking about the dangers of religon. (Got that?) On the album, it’s all techno-driven and loud and angry. I love that version, but I also love this stripped down one from 2001.

Am I buggin’ you? I don’t mean to bug ya. OK, Edge, play the blues!
“Silver and Gold” (from Rattle and Hum)
According to legend, they wrote this song in one hour. Kind of hard to believe. It’s so powerful. And, of course, Bono is ever the showman. (Also, I just really like saying, “Am I buggin’ you? I don’t mean to bug ya.” Try saying it to someone who won’t get the reference. It’s fun.)

She will suffer the needle’s chill. She’s running to stand still.
“Running to Stand Still” (from The Joshua Tree)
To be honest, I didn’t give this song much thought until I saw the ZooTV tour. Bono gives a spine-tingling performance that always leaves me breathless. If you didn’t know what the song was about before, you will after seeing this.

The Irish been coming here for years, feel like they own the place.
“New York” (from All That You Can’t Leave Behind)
This is a pretty stirring song, all things considered. I don’t think it was written to be, but timing is everything. I saw them perform it in November, 2001, just a few months after Sept. 11th. Unlike the video below, during the song, they ran the names of every person who was killed that day. The audience held their breath through the last note. It was one of the most memorable experience of my life.

Don’t you know you old fool, you never can win.
“I’ve Got You Under My Skin” (from Frank Sinatra’s Duets)
After Natalie Cole but before American Idol, Bono did the whole split screen duet thing. The result is delightful, and oddly touching. (Also, Bono sounds super sexy.) See for yourself.

Still I’m waiting for the dawn.
“Yahweh” (from How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb)
This will go down in U2’s history as one of the songs best heard live. While it’s great on the album, this song is an anthem, best experienced in concert.

I spend my whole life running; he spends his running after me.
“The First Time” (from Zooropa)
Quite simply, this is one of the most beautiful songs ever written. Quiet, unassuming, perfect.

You are the first one of your kind.
“Original of the Species” (from How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb)
Another song I didn’t pay mind to until hearing it live. You guys – this song – this song is wonderful. Bono and The Edge wrote it for their oldest daughters. Before I knew that, I didn’t get it. I do now. “Original of the Species” is a glimpse into fatherhood. Bono and the Edge share what it’s like for them to watch their little girls grow up. Quite honestly, I can’t listen to the song now without tearing up. Also, this video you’re about to see is from the concert I went to. And it was Bono’s birthday. And his daughter’s. Pretty awesome to have that night captured forever on film. (And yet…I don’t own this DVD.)

Here she comes. Heads turn around.
“Miss Sarajavo” (from Original Soundtracks 1)
I don’t know that any introduction is needed. The song – and this performance in particular (seen in U2:3D) is breathtaking. Definitely a rare gem in the U2 ouvre.

Last, this is not really an obscure track (I don’t think), but it is my favorite U2 song of all time, so I must include it.

You say when he hits you, you don’t mind. Because when he hurts you, you feel alive. Oh now. Is that what it is?
“Stay (Faraway, So Close)” (from Zooropa)
I love it in any form: on the album, live, acoustic, plugged in, whatever. However, my favorite performance would have to be this one. Just look at how his eyes bulge, and his neck sticks out. Is it weird I think that’s incredibly sexy?

Next time round, I’ll come see you, Bono. I promise. In the meantime, I’m going to work on narrowing the compilation down to at least 50.

“Broadway lights, and wide open spaces…”

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Who has two thumbs and just scored tickets to Bye Bye Birdie in September? THIS GIRL!

It’s fair to say that I am just a bit excited.

First of all, it’s got a great cast. Sure, you’ve got John Stamos, who I am sure will be an excellent Albert Peterson. But, honestly, I am most excited about Bill Irwin. I love Bill Irwin. I’ve loved him ever since he played The Flying Man, the mute circus performer who wooed Marilyn, on Northern Exposure.*

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A few years ago, I had the privilege of seeing him and Kathleen Turner in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, for which he won a Tony. Most recently, he was one of the only things I liked about Rachel Getting Married

You might also remember him as the clown on that episode of The Cosby Show where Cliff takes Rudy’s friends out for her birthday.

What most amazes me most about Bill Irwin is the complete and total command he has over his body. It’s just amazing to watch, even when he’s not being a clown or doing acrobatics.  Playing George in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, he communicated so much to the audience without dialogue – the way he carried himself, his body language, his face – spoke volumes. (And let’s not forget, The Flying Man had entire conversations with Marilyn without speaking a word.)

It’s rare that you see a performer on TV, stage, or movies who really stands out. Bill Irwin stands out. Without even knowing who he was, I remembered him as the clown on The Cosby Show for years. That episode is a permanant part of my childhood. On a mere two episodes of Northern Exposure, he stood out to me as one of the best characters in the series.

The point is, Mr. Irwin is extremely talented, and I can’t wait to see him sing about Ed Sullivan and go beserk when his meals keep getting cleared away before he’s had a chance to eat.

Here’s another clip of him, playing the fool to Karen Ziemba in a Sondheim Celebration at Carnegie Hall. (I couldn’t find the one where he gets dragged off stage, but this is pretty great, too.)

So, there’s one reason why I’m thrilled about Bye Bye Birdie.The other reason? It’s a great show. It’s the show that introduced me to musical theater, back in 1994, when I was in my community theater’s production. I was a chorus girl, and got to wear a poodle skirt and bounce around the stage singing “Going steady! Going steady!” It was a blast. A few years later, my high school put it on. By then, I was behind the scenes, and ran sound for the production. Again: it was a blast.

Despite being wildly popular in regional, community, and high school theater, I think this is an overlooked production. (Can you believe this is the first time it’ll be on Broadway since its debut in 1960?)It’s a very light show – nothing serious, lots of jokes. But if you actually listen to the score, it’s pretty tight. Think about it: “The Telephone Hour,” “Kids”, “A Lot of Livin’ to Do”, “Spanish Rose”, “Talk To Me” “Put On A Happy Face”, “One Boy”, “Hymn for A Sunday Evening” and (my personal fave) “Rosie”, among others.  Plus, the book is hilarious. There’s a reason the show won a slew of Tonys.

My only concern is critics will write Birdie off as”dated.” Well, sure it is. It’s supposed to be. It parodies a very specific time in America. Hopefully I’m wrong. Hopefully critics will love it and Birdie will be the hit of the season.

After all, with all the shit going on in the world right now, this lighthearted, frothy show is  just what America needs.

*For those interested, he did a great interview for American Theater Wing’s Downstage Center podcast  a few years ago. You can find it here.

(500) Thoughts later…

500days

… I am still not sure about (500) Days of Summer. I really, really wanted to like it. It’s got a drop dead gorgeous leading man and leading lady (Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt) It’s hip. It’s a contemporary film about single people my age. And, unlike a lot of romantic comedies out there (even though it is NOT A ROMANTIC COMEDY) it’s quirky, fresh, and something different.

There’s just one problem: I hated Summer.

I know that’s kind of the point of the film. (Or is it?) She’s supposed to be someone unattainable, someone that all the guys love and all the girls secretly hate. Someone with an ephemeral quality that cute, hipster boys seem to love so much. It’s not a love story; it’s a story about love. 

But I couldn’t help it. Summer is an amalgam of all the girls I’ve ever known and secretly hated. (And not just because she’s the kind of girl boys go for. It’s because she’s so…transparently fake.  I mean, really, who runs around IKEA pretending to be married? I bet she doesn’t watch TV either, because she thinks it’s a waste of time. Get the fuck over yourself, fictional character!)

Some background:

After I graduated college and moved to Chicago, my first job was crewing on a documentary about vampires. (No, really.) I was thrilled. The guy making the documentary was cool, and I was actually going to get paid to work on a film.  But all that changed after I met the other crew member. She was my very own version of Summer. My Summer dressed all hipstery, wore too much lip balm, and had that “I cut my hair at home because it’s too expensive to go to a salon, that’s why it’s all uneven, doesn’t it look GREAT?” ‘doo. My Summer had scrabble nights at her apartment. She didn’t DARE watch TV. And, to top it all off, she turned my cool, funny director into a total douche bag.

In short, I hated her.

So maybe this movie hit a little too close to home for me. Maybe I didn’t give Movie Summer a fair shot. After all, she does love The Boy With the Arab Strap, and so do I.

After the movie I was in a foul mood. It put a bad taste in my brain. So my immediate reaction was to not like (500) Days of Summer.

However, it’s 5 days later and I’m still thinking about the film. So, what does that mean? Was it just so unpleasant that it’s still there, lingering like bad Mexican food? Or did I secretly love it, and my brain is trying to process this surprise?

My immediate thought walking out of the theater was that I wouldn’t see the movie again. Once was enough. But now I’m thinking I need to revisit Tom and Summer’s relationship. I need to go in with a clean slate, and not equate Summer to the annoying girls in college and my post-college nemesis. Maybe I should watch the film and try to see things from her perspective.

Damn. Don’t you hate it when a film makes you think?

Video of the Day: Whether or not I end up liking (500) Days of Summer, I already know I love this. The song is called “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here” by She and Him – the “She” being Zooey Deschanel. The duo has one album thus far (Volume I),  and it’s delightful. If you haven’t gotten it yet, check it out here.

Vodpod videos no longer available.