euphemisms in popular music

Lyric euphemism.   Pop songs that have explored lyrical euphemism has always made me smile.    I think there is a fine art to language of which euphemism plays a role.  There are tons of songs in popular music that are some type of euphemism. For decades and decades musicians have skirted parental control with the use of euphemism.  But that’s just my opinion.    I’ll let you decide.   Let’s get the party started. How many euphemisms are there for your backside? More than I thought. LOL

Live Version

Lyric Version

 

 

bless the beasts and the children

Another installment: thinking of the world we are leaving our children and the children of the future. We are on the cusp of the next great extinction event caused by climate change. Climate change cause by humanities overwhelming impact on the environment and the planet on which we call home. Our children should not be the ones to warn us yet that is what is happening. We adults have shrugged off our responsibility and now our children are crying out for help. What are we doing to provide light during these dark times? What are we doing to keep them safe? How long will we pat our children on the head and offer our empty comforting words? Or, will we continue to write pretty songs to placate and humor the need instead of meet the need? It’s not enough to say, “It’s just too hard. At least the world won’t end while I’m alive. We’ll let someone else figure it out.”

When will we say, “…NOW is the favorable time. NOW is the day of salvation”(*) for our children?

* II Corinthians 6:2

difficult listening

I grew up in a safe environment. Everything was safe. The food was safe. Society was safe. School was safe. Home was safe. But as I got older I learned that it wasn’t safe it was just protected.

There are people who still want to live in their own comfortable “protected” worlds. But protection is a myth. A legend elders tell children. It does not exist. And insisting it does exist, does not make it so.

Further I suggest that propagating this delusion is more harmful than preparing for the facts. The truth. Example: Climate change deniers often use their arguments as an excuse to keep from preparing for the consequences of climate change and taking action to slow it’s impact. And now with the pandemic, humanities approach to disease belies their own unpreparedness. Death and sickness has become unacceptable (even though it is inevitable) So they wear masks, they fight over it, they try to shame those who are “awake” and not afraid.  They want a safe world where things don’t change. The climate doesn’t change. People don’t get sick and die. The world doesn’t change. Everything is safe.

What does this have to do with difficult music/difficult listening?
Like the quote from William S Burroughs in the Laurie Anderson video,

“language is a virus from outer space.”

Difficult music challenges a listeners perception of the norm. It suggests there is something else we need to consider. It suggests that we look into the dark corners. Difficult music is to sound what abstract expressionism was/is to art. And most people who have abstract art work treat if more as wallpaper than as something that has something to say/contribute to the conversation of our times. And in music, people typically do not choose to engage it because it requires them to think about what they are listening to. It is often difficult if not impossible to just hang it on a wall as pretty wallpaper for the soul. Difficult music is often derided as messy, juvenile, scary, ugly, inaccessible (not conforming to any known genre parameters) and ultimately ignored. It is the red-headed stepchild of the music world.

But we can learn much from difficult music. It is not something to be afraid of. The shadows are not scary if you enter with a flashlight. It can teach us about ourselves in ways we haven’t considered or dared think about. But to encounter and engage difficult music one must be prepared and perhaps that is the problem with our “protected”, “safe” elders they are not prepared and they do not know how to prepare the younger generation for the facts and truth of existence.

So, do you want to explore difficult music? Don’t know where to start?
Step One: Turn off the radio and TV – they are notorious “taste makers” that would rather keep you safe than expose you to truth. There are many artists that have helped me in preparing for the real world. I started learning about many “difficult” artists just from reading the underground music press (back in the 1980’s) when popular music was experiencing an explosion of variety. But difficult music existed long before I started reading about it.

Here are some artists you can start with (in no particular order):

Laurie Anderson                                                Public Enemy
Einsturzende Neubauten/Blixa Bargeld        The Last Poets
Alva Noto                                                             Lustmord
Laibach                                                                Rapoon/Zoviet*France
Robert Fripp/King Crimson et al                     Ornette Coleman
Diamanda Galas                                                 Lester Bowie
Sun Ra                                                                  Terry Riley
The Art Ensemble of Chicago                          Steve Reich
Philip Glass (early works)                                Markus Reuter
Robert Rich                                                          Scott Walker (after 1994)
Merzbow                                                              Cabaret Voltaire
Swans                                                                   Nurse With Wound
Matana Roberts                                                  Godspeed You! Black Emperor

The above artists all have work available on Youtube so enjoy your excursion into difficult music. Maybe in the future I’ll write about some of the specific recordings. Again this is just an introduction to difficult listening. Maybe not what you want to listen to in these difficult times but the music does speak to the truth of the times we are experiencing.

I’ll start you off with this Nurse With Wound video for the song BOTTOM FEEDER

Childhood……

This post was inspired by fellow blogger, Oannes.   He has been posting some wonderful songs about childhood.   Be sure to check out (and follow) his blog https://oannes.gr/category/other-musical-stuff/

For my own contribution I present Chuck Mangione’s title track from CHILDREN OF SANCHEZ which was also the soundtrack for the Mexican-American movie of the same name.

A passionate track that covers so many emotions.   While listening I can’t help but think about Children in the world in which we now live.    Are we teaching them to hate instead of love?   Are we teaching them to be afraid instead of accepting and courageous?   Are we teaching them to not trust anyone?   We adults set the example for these adults of the future.   Just what are we teaching our children? What kind of dreams are we giving our children? What memories will our children have?

This album is one of 3 favorite Chuck Mangione albums.   And I highly recommend it.  This title track is ambitious starting off with powerful lyrics sung by Don Potter. And then once your heart is softened the drums and horns come in full force to break it all apart. The lyrical verse is then repeated with Chucks Flugelhorn replacing the vocal and then again by guitar virtuoso Grant Geissman. There is a whole verse improvised around the theme by Chuck that is pure hopeful celebration followed by a lyrical reprise. By the end when that last drum and horn break forces it’s way into the song I find myself pumping my fist in the air in righteous agreement – wanting to shout “WAKE UP PEOPLE AND THINK OF THE CHILDREN!”

I recall how Native American tribes would plan not only for their children but for the 7th generation. We need to get back to that. It’s not too late. That seems to be a good lesson for our children and our children’s children….


Without dreams of hope and pride a man will die
Though his flesh still moves his heart sleeps in the grave
Without land a man never dreams cause he’s not free
All men need a place to live with dignity.
Take the crumbs from starving soldiers, they won’t die
Lord said not by bread alone does man survive
Take the food from hungry children, they won’t cry
Food alone won’t ease the hunger in their eyes.
Every child belongs to mankind’s family
Children are the fruit of all humanity
Let them feel the love of all the human race
Touch them with the warmth, the strength of that embrace.
Give me love and understanding, i will thrive
As my children grow my dreams come alive
Those who hear the cries of children. god will bless oh yes he will
I will always hear the children of Sánchez.

what’s in a chord progression…

a.k.a. the evolution of a chord progression….

So have you ever heard songs and you’ve thought “I’ve heard that before, but just can’t place it”.  Chances are it’s because of a copied/inspired/emulated chord or rhythm progression.    That happened recently to me when I was revisiting Led Zeppelin’s first album.  You may have heard the phrase “3 Chords and the truth”.  Well this post is about 5 Chords and the truth.

The song “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You Now” has a 5 chord progression that stopped me cold in my tracks.    I said, “Hey! That’s Chicago’s “25 or 6 to 4”.  Was one inspired by the other? Which came first?  So, having asked the questions I started doing some research.

Actually Led Zeppelin’s version of “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You Now” was a cover of the song by singer/songwriter Anne Bredon.   It’s believed to be written around 1959/60 when she first appeared on the folk music radio show called The Midnight Special (not related to the TV series).  Later, Led Zeppelin heard a cover of the song by Joan Baez and decided to cover it on their first album in early 1969. What they did differently was arrange the 5 chords of the song and introduce it as the familiar  “power chords”, that we’ve come to recognize and love, later in the song.

Chicago’s song has the same descending 5-chord progression of power chords (this time way out front) in their song “25 or 6 to 4” from their eponymously titled second album  which came out after Led Zeppelin’s first album late 1969.  The song was released as a single in 1970.  And it is amazing that they were not sued for copyright infringement for using that riff.   By moving the chord progression out front and adding the punchy brass Chicago has shown a much more progressive, aggressive and harder edged use of these chords.   And I never ever thought of Chicago as harder or more aggressive than Led Zeppelin; but in this case I think it applies.

But get this,   Chicago wasn’t the first to copy the riff in one of their songs. None other than George Harrison (that’s right the Beatle’s) used the riff (albeit, a subtler version)  in the song “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” recorded in September 1968, around the time Led Zeppelin was recording their first album.  And the Beatles White Album was released in November 1968.

So what is the likelihood of all three supergroups (Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Chicago) being aware of each other use of these 5 chords?    Well,  I would say not at all unless they shared the same recording/engineering personnel.   We have to remember that this was during the analog age, before the internet, social networks etc., and  these bands were all in the studio around the same time, in their respective locations, working on their own albums with no interaction during this time.

According to an article I read this chord progression/riff has repeatedly showed up on many rock songs.  Probably one of the more recent, and famous, ones was “Brain Stew” by Green Day in 1992.  It’s interesting that Green Day “dismantles” the riff keeping the familiar power chords but spreading them out; making it familiar yet distant.

While the songs are all different they are in some ways the same. So enough of the history lesson.  I’ll let you listen for your self.

Anne Bredon – BABE, I’M GONNA LEAVE YOU (the earliest recordings)

George Harrison – WHILE MY GUITAR GENTLY WEEPS

Led Zeppelin – BABE, I’M GONNA LEAVE YOU (arguably the most popular version of this song)

Chicago – 25 OR 6 TO 4

And last, but not least…
Green Day – BRAIN STEW

While some may lament that copying a riff or chord pattern reflects a lack of originality. I remember one popular artist that said basically that all artists steal from each other. It’s the old notion of “standing on the shoulders of giants”. So maybe it’s not important to copy something as long as you are able to incorporate into an original expression as these artists have.  After all it doesn’t seem a whole lot different than today’s hip-hop and electronica artists who sample other peoples work.  In fact what happened in this case was less deliberate and more organic than sampling.

Well I hope you enjoyed this post.  My investigation started on the Wikipedia page for Led Zeppelin after which I migrated to the Wikipedia page for Chicago’s song “25 OR 6 TO 4” which led me to an article for the main source of my information – a column written by Andy Hermann from LA WEEKLY called “You Still Can’t Copyright A Riff – And That’s A Good thing”.

Rock on my peeps. Hope the rest of your week goes swimmingly.

pr7 f7r60 1

Happy Saturday August First.  Today is the first in a new series of abstract compositions.   I hope you enjoy them as much as I had finding them.  The title is in code followed by the number in the series.

PR7 F7R60 1

does this sound familiar?

Are the two videos describing things that we are seeing now?
The situations are different but the practices and results are the same.

Any American citizen who is afraid of China and Russia needs to watch these videos and ask if we should continue down this path we are on. Just because we can doesn’t mean we should. These videos highlight two history lessons from America’s past. A dark history at best and a sinister dangerous chapter that should NEVER be repeated. But it IS currently being repeated with a 21st Century twist promoted by the President of the United States enabled by his republican supporters, spread by the media, a democratic opposition propagating dangerous alternate views. There is no balance. The deep cynicism of politicians in Washington is doing more harm than help. While Trump and his Republicans have ushered in the end of Democracy the Democrats are securing it. There is only foolishness on both sides. Surely the hunger for POWER, the FEAR, ANGER, HATRED, IGNORANCE and DISTRUST are the same.

“Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.” – Matthew 12:25

confession….

So I must confess.   I’ve never been a huge Marilyn Manson fan.   I don’t own a single CD or download.   However  I’ve always been wildly intrigued by the idea of Marilyn Manson.   I don’t know if that makes sense.   I’ve enjoyed his videos.   The visual artistry is simply amazing.   Well with that simple introduction here is his newest video.   A super surrealistic work that is amazing.    And the lyrics are perfect for a pandemic in America both the pandemic of Covid-19, the pandemic of political poison and ineptitude, the pandemic of media misinformation,  the pandemic of too many voices and not enough ears. Like someone once said, the best art reflects the time it was created in.

WE ARE CHAOS – the title track from Marilyn Manson’s new album due to drop 11/9/2020.

If you say that we’re ill
Just give us your pill
Hope we’ll just go away
but once you’ve inhaled death
everything else is perfume

Maybe I’m just a mystery
I could end up your misery
Maybe I’m just a mystery
I could end up your misery

In the end we all end up in a garbage dump
But I’ll be the one that’s holding your hand

We are sick, fucked up and complicated
We are chaos, we can’t be cured
We are sick, fucked up and complicated
We are chaos, we can’t be cured

Maybe I’m just a mystery
I could be your misery
Maybe I’m just a mystery

Marry with the left hand
So far so far from the mad’ning crowd

We are sick, fucked up and complicated
We are chaos, we can’t be cured
We are sick, fucked up and complicated
We are chaos, we can’t be cured

Am I a man or a show, or moment
The man in the moon
or a man of all seasons
Will I be in at the kill
With you?

We are sick, fucked up and complicated
We are chaos, we can’t be cured
We are sick, fucked up and complicated
We are chaos, we can’t be cured

We are sick

Cocoon

mobius faith · COCOON

I am in a personal, creative, social,
emotional and professional cocoon.
Once a caterpillar,
I thought I understood life.
Now it feels like time has passed me by
and I no longer understand or
recognize the world I live in:
irrelevant, voiceless, useless.
I can’t move.
Wrapped in blankets on a bed.
Cocooned in my cotton chrysalis.
I peer out through fuzzy threads
and see people moving about,
attempts at normalcy.
But, I have no desire.
I am weak and sickly;
left to the shadows of a previous life.
I have neither the will nor the strength.
I’m left to wonder if I will emerge from this cocoon
to a new life,
a new type of existence
or if I will die in my encasement.
Will I be able to break free and
enjoy new life?
A new existence?
Better Health?
Feeling “at one” with the world around me?
Or will this shell become my abattoir
slaughtered in silence.
Perhaps I will emerge an avatar
able to engage, teach, foster and encourage the souls who remain?
“If you live long enough and hang in long enough
the world will learn to love you again” (*)
So, now is the time of waiting
and hanging in there
waiting for the metamorphosis to complete
as I wonder….

Will I be a butterfly or a moth?
Will I dine on the sweet nectar of milkweed?
Will I flit and flutter toward the light of my undoing?
In the end the question is not “how?” but “when?”
Even butterflies can die in their cocoon.

* quote by Toya Willcox in the liner notes to her new boxed set.

Escaping One's Own Shadow

ESCAPING ONE’S OWN SHADOW

When fiction becomes fact

The above video is from the US television series HANDMAIDS TALE. It is a dystopian fiction that proves Margaret Atwood was chillingly prophetic. Unmarked, unidentifiable secret police attacking protestors. A violent response to a nonviolent protest. People excercising their rights.

And now July 2019. Portland, Oregon. Can a “Gilead” made up of Trump supporters be far behind? A nation divided.

And what’s Trumps response? “We’re also looking at Chicago and New York”. He views ALL protesters (who aren’t protesting for him) as anarchists that must be squashed. He is wrong. He will find out what true anarchy is. He needs to remember what happened to Romanian dictator Ceausescu.

There is no way this ends well. And now he say’s he may not accept the election results in November if he loses. If there is any doubt from people around the world that the United States has fallen into dictatorship. I say, WAKE THE FUCK UP!

The American Nightmare continues.

Dig deep down from Planet X, yeah 
Thirteen ghosts in the devil's head 
Step right up and feel the fire 
Hardcore love of the never dead 

Call me the American nightmare 
Call me the American dream 
Call me your soul corrupted 
Call me everything you need 

Yeah, motherfucker 
Yeah, who do you love 
Yeah, motherfucker 
Who do you love, yeah 

Black boots stomp and penetrate, yeah 
Lust and death gone in your head 
Rat pack mind degenerated 
Thirteen ghosts sing the body red 

Call me the dark intruder 
Call me the haunted sea 
Call me your Monster Zero 
Call me anything you need 
Call me the American Nightmare 
Call me the American dream 
Call me your soul corrupted 
Call me everything you need 

Yeah, motherfucker 
Yeah, who do you love 
Yeah, motherfucker 
Who do you love, yeah 

Call me the American Nightmare 
Call me the American dream 
Call me your soul corrupted 
Call me everything you need 

Yeah, motherfucker 
Yeah, who do you love 
Yeah, motherfucker 
Who do you love, yeah 
Yeah, motherfucker 
Yeah, who do you love 
Yeah, motherfucker 
Who do you love, yeah