Category Archives: Music

Darth Vader is Luke’s father (spoiler alert!)

I don’t go to many concerts, but oh, how many times I’ve wanted to write a variant of this brilliant letter upon leaving the movie theater. My particular curse is not the annoying music fan, but the Guy Who Narrates Everything That Happens in the Movie to his girlfriend/wife, a tragic woman who apparently is incapable of discerning for herself that yes, Batman is getting into the Batmobile, and yes, he is now driving through the streets of the city, which is of course Gotham City in case you’ve not paid any attention to anything Batman-related over the last few decades. And that guy wearing the scary scarecrow mask? That is in fact the Scarecrow, who you may recall was introduced to us several minutes ago in this very film.

Most recently I had the pleasure of sitting next to the Guy Who Loudly States Plot Spoilers Before They Happen, since it’s important that his wife/girlfriend (and the people sitting nearby) not be surprised by anything that happens in the movie. Fortunately the movie was Pirates of the Caribbean 3, the garbled narrative mess of which stripped spoilers of their usual movie-ruining power.

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Symphony of the night, again

There so needs to be a heavy-metal rock opera based on the original Castlevania trilogy soundtrack–preferably by a European prog rock band with crazy hair, Ren-fair stage costumes, and a ridiculously melodramatic Goth name.

But until that day, I’m content to listen to this guy’s hard-rock renditions of the music of Castlevania. His in-progress “Unchosen Paths” album is an effort to rework the entire soundtrack of Castlevania 3, and let me tell you–I’ve been listening to it all day, and it’s a work of freaking genius. “Creeping Dusk” is an 18-minute metal epic that takes you on a whirlwind tour of every great tune from CV2: Simon’s Quest and CV3: Dracula’s Curse. And “Scourge of 1691,” in addition to having a darn cool name, covers what must be every song from the original game in one great Medley of Awesomeness.

Rock on, my Castlevania-music-playing friends. Rock on.

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Open letter to the musicians of the world

We interrupt this long gap of blog silence to bring you an important message.

Musicians of the world,

You know that super-secret hidden track you guys keep putting at the end of the last track on your CDs? Well, you may stop doing that now. It was last considered “cool” sometime around 1991. In 1991, it was a fun surprise (the first time) to be listening to a CD and come across a totally unexpected little treat at the very end of the last track. But these days, it loses some of its effect when we can see it coming from a mile away:

So if you’re looking to do something really unique and cool with your band’s newest album, try something fresh and different… like recording Satanic messages backwards on it, or something.

A Music Fan

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Did I ever mention that I hate the beat poets?

Just in case you were wondering: the worst song ever recorded is not, in fact, Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping.” It is the version of REM’s “Star Me Kitten” in which William S. Burroughs (coincidentally the worst writer in the history of literature) reads some sort of whacked-out poem inspired by a Marlene Dietrich song.
It’s… unlistenable.
Just in case you were wondering.

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Your friendly neighborhood harbinger of the Apocalypse

I gingerly dropped the CD into the tray, put on my headphones, and pressed Play. This was a new album from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, which meant that I had absolutely no idea what was about to happen.
My first encounter with Nick Cave’s music took place several years ago and is an experience I remember well. The song was “The Mercy Seat,” and by the time it drew to a close–in a cacophany of strings, distortion, and tortured vocals–I felt emotionally exhausted. The song opens (as instruments are messily tuned and warmed up in the background) with a defiant declaration:

They came and took me from my room
And put me in Dead Row
(of which I am nearly wholly innocent).
And I say it again: I am not afraid to die.

I was instantly hooked. The song continued, building slowly in intensity, telling the story of a death-row inmate’s scared but defiant mental journey to the electric chair. He insists he’s innocent, but he knows he’s lying to himself. He looks to the cross of Christ for mercy, but knows he cannot escape the all-seeing, judging eye of God. He yearns for the release of death, but is terrified at the prospect of dying. You, the listener, feel the terror and panic and relief of the long walk towards the Chair, the Mercy Seat.
It’s an amazing, disturbing, glorious song.
Like I said, you never know what you’re going to get with Nick Cave. Musically, he’s what you’d get if you mixed rock, blues, and folk together and stirred in a healthy dose of Nine Inch Nails. He’s an agnostic fire-and-brimstone preacher, he’s a honey-tongued crooner, he’s a murderous prophet of doom. He can pull off a love song that opens with this line:

I don’t believe in an interventionist God
But I know, darling, that you do.

…and somehow not sound completely ridiculous. (Actually, Nick Cave can be a bit ridiculous.)
So I wasn’t sure what was going to come out of the headphone speakers. A ballad about murder? A tender love song? A tired and angry tirade about a broken world? What I actually got managed to catch me completely off guard: Cave as an electrifyingly earnest street preacher, his booming baritone shouting out an actual sermon, backed by cranked-up-to-11 guitar riffs and an honest-to-God gospel choir:

Get ready for love! Praise Him!
Get ready for love! Praise Him!
Well, most of all nothing much ever really happens
And God rides high up in the ordinary sky
Until we find ourselves at our most distracted,
And the miracle that was promised creeps quietly by.
Calling every boy and girl
Calling all around the world
Get ready for love! Praise Him!
The mighty wave their hankies from their high-windowed palace
Sending grief and joy down in supportable doses
And we search high and low without mercy or malice
While the gate to the Kingdom swings shut and closes.
Praise Him til you’ve forgotten what you’re praising Him for;
Praise Him a little bit more.
Praise Him til you’ve forgotten what you’re praising Him for;
Then praise Him a little bit more…
Get ready for love! Praise Him!
I searched the seven seas and looked under the carpet
And browsed through the brochures that govern the skies
And I was just hanging around, doing nothing
And looked up to see His face burned in the retina of your eyes.

This is weird and wonderful and ludicrously catchy. I have no idea how serious Cave is being, or how many layers of irony I need to dig through before coming to the meaning and intent behind this tune. So I think I’ll just turn up the volume, lean back, and enjoy it.
Preach it, brother Cave!

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