Trying to please to the calling

“Well, it’s a marvelous night for a Moondance. With the stars up above in your eyes” Van Morrison, Moondance

A few months ago I asked my girlfriend a very simple question: How many men (ex-boyfriends, admirers, flings, friends…) have told you that the song Brown Eyed Girl Reminds them of you?

“A fantabulous night to make romance, ‘Neath the cover of October skies”

She laughed, digressed a little bit saying she liked the song and then kind of insinuated that a few might have. I’m sure they have, she’s a pretty girl with dark eyes. I didn’t get the number, but my guess would be no less than 3. I can’t blame them really, Van Morrison released an incredible song with the overall message being “you’re my brown eyed girl”, what else needs to be said? Somebody should try to measure the amount of sex that Van Morrison has brought to this world, perhaps only rivaled by the amount induced by Leonard Cohen. Aren’t people at MIT looking into this? Undoubtedly there’s a significant group of guys out there who should send out a collective ‘thank you’ to Van Morrison. I’m definitely one of them, but not because of Brown Eyed Girl.

“And all the leaves on the trees are falling, To the sound of the breezes that blow”

I have never, never, never used the Brown Eyed Girl line and I think every woman should roll their eyes if they ever heard it used on them, but then again who am I to judge. I’d probably love it if somebody told me I remind them of Neil Diamond’s Solitary Man, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Free Bird or the Highwaymen’s Highwayman. So let’s just all say thank you, thank the artists in question and, most importantly… enjoy the sex or at least get a kick out of somebody rolling their eyes at us. Hopefully it’s the first, but the latter can be fun too.

“And when you come my heart will be waiting. To make sure that you’re never alone”

I know I need to thank Van Morrison, but in my case for Moondance. It’s been my favorite/go-to romantic song for years, as well as my favorite Van Morrison song in general. I first heard it as a teenager in the 90’s when my father bought one of his greatest hits CD that featured Moondance (third track). Although I didn’t start to really like him until several years later, when I began driving and I picked up that same CD to listen to in the car. I remember at the time I was using my grandfather’s car which he wasn’t using anymore. It was 20 years old at the time and it’s still running today, it’s as boxy a car as cars get… and for some reason it has a CD player my grandfather decided to have installed. Inside that shitty car without power steering I discovered how good Van Morrison was, and in the upcoming years discovered the seductive powers of Moondance. I don’t think I’ve used those seductive powers much to my advantage, but I definitely discovered they were there. Ripe for the picking, pro bono courtesy of Van Morrison. Well, not really pro bono at the time, but for the moderate price of 15 bucks.

“Can I just have one a’ more Moondance with you, my love. Can I just make some more romance with a-you, my love”

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We’ll ride through the city tonight

“I see the stars come out of the sky. Yeah, the bright and hollow sky” Iggy Pop, The Passenger

I’m not a devoted Iggy Pop fan, I haven’t listened to The Stooges much either… but The Passenger is one of my favorite songs. For some reason it gets me going, every time I listen to it I want to get up, scream along the la la la la la’s and just kind of bounce along from one place to another. I would’ve loved to have played the role of David Bowie who sings back-up during the chorus! Which is why writing this post is proving more difficult than expected.

“Yeah the bright and hollow sky. You know it looks so good tonight”

In all truth the difficulty for writing this post is that this song during the last 10 years of my life this song has been everywhere and for some strange reason I’ve mostly kept it to myself. I know I’ve listened to it with my brother a few times, it’s made its way onto mix-tapes/cds for some road trips with friends, but the memories I have of this song are of me listening to it by myself. While in my last post I argued that Neil Young sings about her in Cowgirl in the Sand, this song is all about the first person singular, and I love it. That’s why it’s so contagious.

“I am the passenger and I ride and I ride.”

It’s true the song later goes on to talk about the we and the “stars made for us tonight”, but I don’t really buy it. I think that comes in when the song already has you worked up about yourself, your alleged free spirit and how you’re riding along through the city’s lights. I’m sure many see it a different way, but that’s always been my feeling whenever I’ve listened to it. I like it this way too…

“I ride through the city’s backsides. I see the stars come out of the sky.”

I have to admit I’ve tried listening to this song with some of my girlfriends to see if they like it… not a single one of them has. Mostly I’ve gotten indifferent reactions. Perhaps it’s that in a relationship the idea of being a passenger is a no-no (when everything is going well), but I think I’ve been with girls who deserve more credit than that. I think it’s as simple as everybody having a song that for whatever reason pumps them up, but these songs have to be discovered in a way that you can be absorbed by them. It doesn’t work if somebody just plays it for you. That works for the Dylans, Cohens et al, but not for Iggy Pop and The Passenger. It’s too raw, too energetic. You can’t share that, what are we crazy? 

“So let’s ride and ride and ride and ride. Oh, oh, Singing la la la la lalalala!”

When so many love you, is it the same?

Hello cowgirl in the sand. Is this place at your command?” – Neil Young, Cowgirl in the Sand           

After my first contact with Neil Young I wasn’t too impressed. If I recall correctly a friend had recommended I listen to some of his more intense rock songs like Rockin’ in the Free World and Like a Hurricane. They were alright, but I had already discovered Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen and I was a lot more focused on lyrics than any guitar solo. The songs weren’t doing it for me and Neil Young sort of got crossed off the list. I was a fucking fool.

One random weekend about 7 or 8 years ago I was talking music with my uncle and he mentioned Neil Young. Basically, I expressed my initial opinion from the paragraph above and he went on to express my final conclusion from the paragraph above, that I was a fucking fool.

“Can I stay here for a while? Can I see your sweet, sweet smile?”

My uncle put the album Harvest in my hand and told me to get back to him on that. I listened to it with a chip on my shoulder wanting to prove that my initial perception of Young had been right, but a fucking fool is hardly right. By the time I reached Heart of Gold (4th track) I was already convinced that Young was a stud and that the album was something special. I’ve since listened to it hundreds of time, recommended it to anybody who would listen and even made a few copies of it to give to girls, with surprisingly good feedback…

“Hello ruby in the dust, has your band begun to rust?

Harvest has everything to be considered one of the best albums of all time: the artist is in his prime, it has great lyrics and there’s not a single bad song in it. It’s also short enough, about 40 min, to leave you wanting more. However, since discovering Harvest I’ve explored Neil Young quite a bit and there’s one song which I love, to the point that it had to be the first song of his I include in this blog, Cowgirl in the Sand (Live At Massey Hall 1971 version).

“Hello woman of my dreams. This is not the way it seems”

I’m sure… well, almost sure. Alright… I want to think that I haven’t used this song to tell more than one girl that it reminds me of her. In fact I want to think that I have never said it to a single one. That would have been like cheating, the song is that good. I honestly don’t think I have, but I can’t guarantee. Whenever I listen to the song I like the mood that Young creates, but I really like the way he shifts the focus on the woman, sorry, the cowgirl. He sings about her, whoever she is. So what I like about the song is that it’s mystical enough that I’ve felt comfortable listening to it in many different situations. Whether it’s been intimately with a girl, reflecting on a relationship, pursuing a crush, dealing with a break-up… the song just fits well. Or at least it allows for interpretations that fit well, which I guess is the point, right?

So before I ramble on, if you haven’t listened to this song, or this version, here it is courtesy of a fucking fool.

“After all the sin we’ve had, I was hopin’ that we’d turn back”

 

 

Let’s do some living, after we die

“I have my freedom… but I don’t have much time” – Rolling Stones, Wild Horses

When I was in college I watched a bunch of documentaries about my favorite artists. No Direction Home had come out not too long ago and I was searching for others that were just as good. I watched the incredible The Last Waltz and loved another Dylan documentary called Don’t Look Back, but for some reason the one I liked most at the time was the Stones’ Gimme Shelter.

The fact that the documentary was focused on the Altamont concert the Stones gave in 1969 was very appealing. It was famous because the band had hired the Hells Angels to run security and midway through the concert a man carrying a gun was stabbed to death by one of the Hells Angels.

From the documentary there are two scenes I remember vividly…

The first is the Stones in a studio actually looking at the footage of the man taking his gun out and getting stabbed. They make comments as they watch the scene several times and even freeze the image every now and then so they can see the gun and the stabbing.

The second is a scene where the band listens to one of my favorite Rolling Stone songs they’ve just finished recording, Wild Horses. It’s a rare breed for a song, one of those I like more over time. It helps that it’s not overplayed and whenever I hear it I rarely feel that I’ve heard it not too long ago. Yesterday, when watching the documentary Muscle Shoals (not great, unfortunately), I was excited when I saw the exact same scene which I remembered perfectly from 8 or 9 years ago. Coincidentally it was recorded at a Muscle Shoals studio and the scene, in my opinion and I hope in everybody else’s too, stole the documentary.

The clip has a lot of character: Keith Richards mouthing the song, Charlie Watts looking at the floor, Mick Jagger burying his head in his hands but softly clapping with a smile on his face when it’s over…. it’s just memorable.

It’s a song that’s been with me the last ten years, I’ve listened to it with girlfriends, with friends and mostly on my own. Yet to this day I have doubts as to what are “Wild Horses”, I have an idea but whenever I listen to the song with somebody I ask them what they think and how they interpret it.

“Wild, wild horses we’ll ride them some day.”