music theme for summer 2020

Do you ever pick a theme song to get you through the summer? I do because the music feels cool no matter how hot the temperatures may get.   I started doing this in 2003.   That first year the album was THE THORNS – with their songs “Runaway Feeling” and “I Can’t Remember”.

This year with everything that’s happening culturally, politically, globally it just feels like a nonstop hurricane.   I choose to sing and dance.   Most people think these things are just about feeling good, joy, celebration etc.   But you can also sing and dance in protest.   And that’s my mindset this year.   So my theme song for 2020 is “Dance In The Hurricane” by Toya Willcox.   I listened to Toya occasionally back in the 1980’s when she was just starting her career.   In addition to music she is a gifted actress and author.  She never really broke big here in the United States.  I lost track of her over the years.    I recently re-discovered her with her new remastered collection, when she recorded with a band simply called THE HUMANS.   I started doing some googling and reading and found that somewhere after I stopped listening to her she married Robert Fripp –  yes, that Robert Fripp, of KING CRIMSON fame (**see note at end).   Now my curiosity was piqued and started seeking out her most recent music.   She just released (in 2019) a remastered edition of her last studio album IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON QUEEN (2008) re-imagined w/bonus tracks (a deluxe 2 disc set).    I listened to a couple of snippets on YouTube and thought “Oh what the heck”… and I bought the album.   It blew me away.  One song, especially, just grabbed me in the fiercest way – its ideas and the driving rock sound.   “Dance In The Hurricane”  features some narration by Robert Fripp. Its an encouraging and powerful song to be listened to repeatedly during difficult times.

Here’s a snippet of the lyrics:

“…Don’t write my rules,
Love your life, Dance in the Hurricane…Only heaven knows how life will write your song. Be loud, be heard, be proud…”

[chorus] “I danced in a hurricane with the god who has no name, I had to run or face the pain, hold on to love, and learn to trust again…”

Final line in the Lyrics – “One constant law remains, if the light goes out dance again.

So I dare you to DANCE!
DANCE IN THIS HURRICANE!! Let this song be your dynamo to re-charge your soul battery so your light can shine again.

Another great track from this 2 disc set is the track, “Sensational”.

(** I don’t know if you’ve followed them at all but since the lockdown Toya and Robert have been posting “…Sunday Lunch” videos that are weird, quirky and just good fun like when her and Robert dress up in bee costumes…. or when they dance Swan Lake in their back yard. Just a real hoot and a holler!)

REJOICE! it’s what we do

REJOICE!

Humanity will become

                      a slave to its creation.

REJOICE!

Just as God became 

                      a slave to humanity.

REJOICE!

Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

REJOICE!

I sometimes feel sorry for God.

REJOICE!

Maybe one day our creation will feel sorry for us.

REJOICE! Again, I say REJOICE!

…on Peter Gabriel – Amazing


“I’m Amazing” – lyrics by Peter Gabriel

Run into the cage
With what I grew up hating
Keep on recreating
Please help me

Something’s got to change
It was something that you said
Happy times ahead
Happy times ahead

Saw the kind of blood
Like a picture’s going to shatter
Can you recognize the pictures of a bone-luck setter
All the people, all the faces in my head that are running around
I’m trying to make connections but the circuits are down

Look at me
Look at me
Look what I can do
I’m amazing

I’m living from without and I’m living from within
Got light in every layer of my illuminated skin
Could swallowing a lightbulb transform into the sun?
I can jump into the darkness
I can shine on anyone

Look at me
Look at me
Can you see what I can do?
‘Cause I’m amazing

Look at me
Look at me
Look at me
Can you see what I can do
‘Cause I’m amazing

Reaching out my hand
I’m going under water
Sunlight filtered into shafts
I’m going under water
With the human race
I’m going under water down
Under water down
Under water

Trying to put it together in my head
Feeling the weight of what you said
The weight of what you said
Happy times ahead
Happy times ahead
Happy times ahead

Look at me
Look at me
Look what I can do
‘Cause I’m amazing

Look at me
Look at me
Look at me
Look what I can do
‘Cause I’m amazing

Cause I can!
And I will!
It’s moving in me
The spirit is free
Oh what did I leave?

On his website Peter Gabriel[hereafter PG] states,

“I wrote a song a few years back – ‘I’m Amazing’, which was, in part, inspired by Muhammad Ali’s life and struggles and at the time of his death, when so many people are celebrating his life and thinking about all he achieved, it seemed the right time to release it.”

I do not believe we should see this song as a tribute to Ali. I saw one video posted on YOUTUBE that said this song was “about Muhammad Ali”. I disagree. PG is an artist; and as such, he uses all of life as inspiration in creating his art. Ali was only one part of the equation that helped clarify the point PG was trying to make. PG has something much bigger than one mans life that he want’s us to consider. If there is any comparison to Ali that can be made accurately is that the song deftly alternates between “Float like a butterfly, Sting like a bee”.

So what makes this song, it’s music and lyrics so powerful? Peter Gabriel has become an undisputed master of using various music influences from around the world in creating his own unique sound. “I’m Amazing” is a blend of these influences that borders on genius. The music moves forward and has it’s own pulse points with a fusion of sounds electronic, tribal and organic with lyrics both spoken and sung, chant and vocal ululation. There are ebbs and flows in the overall song structure that help propel the listener through the song with rhythmic emotional intensity.

Lyrically, the song offers intense criticism of our culture and society. He is careful not to place blame. He simply let’s the character in the song make observations and leaves it up to us to determine any cause and make appropriate adjustment in our own lives so that we do not end up in the same predicament. What is NOT said in the lyrics is just as important as what IS said. PG does not write on the surface of things but gets under the skin. While on the surface if you just read the lyrics it may seem like a positive paean with the old “pick yourself up by the bootstraps” mentality. But listening to how the lyrics are sung provides a whole new wealth of meaning that seems truer. It is funny how music can add clarity to the meaning of words. By themselves lyrics are ambiguous and can be interpreted by each individual as they wish. But what is lost is the authors intention. Music provides that intention. I have not heard such snarling sardonic expression in pop music for a long time and it is refreshing. A true wakeup call. I love how the lyrics switch between introspect/retrospect/prospect as the singer looks to escape his own mundanity and latch onto all the promises made by a self-help society with “happy times ahead”. Drowning in his own misery he not only seeks for a way out but becomes so self-obsessed that all(and everyone) else is left behind. The character acts/does because he can and never asks if he should. It’s only after it’s too late does he contemplate what was left behind.

This is a most welcome addition to the canon of music written by this great artist.