I am using wine coolers to cope, after several months of eyeing them in the grocery store but always being too early or too cheap or too "I don't have enough room in my bag and I came here for pop" to buy. B&J EXOTIC BERRY FLAVOR IS DELICIOUS (makes my moscato wine taste like crap by comparison; although at this point I should really just admit that my palate just wants juice. expensive juice). [edit: holy hell and also loaded with calories. Damn you, alcohol. I am not accustomed to drinks having those things.]
Anyway...if I didn't mention it before, I bought Vanessa Carlton's second CD at Savers, and I've been using it in my CD alarm clock player to wake up to for the past few days and it's sent me no a real Carlton kick where I listen to all 3 CDs in MP3 form. Plus coming on the heels of Stevie Nicks latest CD, I'm remembering how much I love "The One," which is actually more than when I first heard it.
Flipping back through The Music of 2007, it turns out that I mentioned loving "Heroes and Thieves" after not having being too thrilled with "Harmonium" when it came out. I had forgotten that, which makes it very exciting that I really enjoy it now, just as much as her third CD. And since all of this is old news and therefore Music List ineligible, but also mostly pre-LJ...THAT MEANS I GET TO TALK ABOUT ALL OF HER SONGS RIGHT NOW.
I. Be Not Nobody
Let's start all the way back at the beginning! It was 2002, back when radio was still 95% awesome, and the early part of that year had just introduced two new songs destined for greatness into my life: Complicated and A Thousand Miles, only one of which is relevant to this post, which I taped ASAP (this was back when tapes were still used
This latter song was the better of the two, and my strongest association of it is on a slushy March day, walking Kym Very Very Far (about 1.5 to 2 miles from home, because she was still young enough for that) to explore a brand-new neighborhood I'd been dying to see...and lo, it was so fun. You know how a lot of times you burn out on singles after you get a CD because of disproportionate overplay? Not this one. Never this one; it's one of my favorite songs of all time between the melody and instruments and lyrics.
But flashing forward to the present day so I can do a retrospective, because this is still my favorite of her three:
"Ordinary Day" is another favorite, mostly because I have ALWAYS wanted there to be a Joan of Arcadia song set to it. I could never decide if I wanted it to be a Joan/Adam or a Joan/God In Hot Boy form (platonic version), but it definitely needed to exist and yet, 10 years later, to my knowledge it still does not. The cautionary "Rinse" is #3, containing one of my favorite couplets in all of music because it's my whole outlook on life, basically: "And if she runs away she fears she won't be followed / What could be the worse than leaving something behind?" Rounding out my top 4 is "Twilight," largely for the gorgeous instrumentation used.
Of the others: "Unsung" has happy, boppy piano that always makes me think of Charlie Brown specials, "Wanted" has much more dramatic and tension-filled piano that always gives me delightful shivers before it begins its pattern of crescendo and descrendo in the lyrics, and I always get 6-8 mixed up until I hear them but:
"Sway," though not exciting has the entrancing "say you would, say you could, say you'd come and stop the rain," the deliberately measured "Paradise" is the strongest after Unsung because it's about a lonely girl ("All she wants and all she needs are reasons to survive"), and "Prince" is...really has no substance beyond the "willing and able to run" hook, wow.
Like many songs, "Paint It Black" is much better covered by a pretty female voice than in its original form. (also, I did not know it was a cover until a few years later. "I see the girls walk by dressed in their summer clothes" seemed very natural as a girl's lyric; I mean, guys aren't noticing clothes, right? Is how my teenage brain interpreted things)
If there is a weak track, it's probably "Pretty Baby" with its insipid lyrics. Romantic ballads are rarely my favorite part of albums, though. And it's still not bad like OMG MUST SKIP NOW.
Just FYI, College Freshman Me was HORRIFIED by the controversial lyric in "White Houses," DID NOT WANT THAT IMAGERY, instantly lost respect for her as an artist...but kept listening to the song because basically every other line in it was amazing. It was nostalgic, it was about summer, it was about friends, and friends lost. Everything I was experiencing at that point in time: "Maybe you were all faster than me / we gave each other up so easily" + "So I go, and I will not be back here again." The fact that she names a particular girl at one point in the song is just icing on the cake.
And yeah, I'm pretty sure it literally took me 5-7 years to fully get over it, but I'm glad I can finally listen to it in full without cringing, because all of the nostalgia I liked is still going strong.
"Annie" is and always has been the favorite, because a) girl's name, and b) TRAGEDY/SAD SONG. it's another one of hers on my "all time favorite songs" list. "Who's To Say" is another one I really like, albeit for no particular reason - maybe just because musically it led off well as the second track? "Private Radio" is really fun and upbeat - and also what I secretly call the car radio when I am rocking out to it - and "Half A Week Before The Winter" has a bunch of really cool, sometimes unnerving lyrics. Mostly: "The unicorns are riding high / Powerful in coats of white" and "The vampires are growing tired / the coats of white all turn to red"
That was all I listened to for years. As of this week, I've turned my ear toward all the others for basically the first time --
San Francisco - I think I found it boring? But now I rather like all the city imagery. Lyrics keep jumping out at me. "I always liked Steinbeck and those old men whistling," + Talking in the Mission over coffee / this is my utopia" and it definitely has a driving melody.
Afterglow - nope, I got nothing. It's ballad territory. But at least it's more peaceful than insipid.
C'est La Vie - unlike most of her work, with a strong drumbeat replacing piano, and the way the title phrase is repeated is kinda catchy. The whole song sounds kind of messy and unpolished in every way, and it's interesting.
Papa - I keep hearing the line "Love, plastic love / You're a genuine wannabe" and I WANT THIS IMPOSED ON A RACHEL/BRODY GRAPHIC SO BADLY IT HURTS. Also: cool dramatic piano, rise and fall in the melody, etc.
She Floats - this sounds dark in every way, and could be a really cool 'creepy' song, perfect for a psychological horror movie, if it didn't devolve into actual high-pitched screaming somewhere in the middle. WHY. WHY. For a while it sounds a bit like a Greek chorus, and that's actually really neat, but then it skirts just a little too far and gives a nails-on-chalkboard effect for just a little too long until it calms down again. Is there an edited version anywhere out there?
The Wreckage - hidden track I literally did not know about until last week when I was going, "Track 11? THERE ARE ONLY TEN TRACKS. WHAT IS HAPPENING? IS MY CD PLAYER BEWITCHED??" Short but powerful.
III. Heroes & Thieves
[2007, very briefly]I'll actually keep this one short and sweet since I put half of it on The Music of 2007 already. It's currently demoted to my least favorite of the three, but probably because it's the only one I had in MP3 form until now and I heard it too many times. It's hard to explain, but it feels like everything is either variations on her own perspective or third-person commentary on The Whole of The World, whereas the other CDs create more varied stories and characters.
"Nolita Fairytale" is still my favorite, and I think The One is now upgraded to second, bumping "Heroes and Thieves" a tad despite its awesome lyrics. I really like the upbeat piano intro to "Come Undone," and "Fools Like Me" is fun too. "Home" and "More Than This" (soldiers and heroes come home, and they carry a song) are strong closers. But all that said? There really aren't any I'm ever tempted to skip on this one. Very pleasing.
IV. Rabbits on the Run
WAIT WHAT THE HELL WHY DID I NOT KNOW SHE HAD ANOTHER ALBUM WHAT IS THIS OMG hittin' the library ASAP tomorrow. (lol listen to new CDs I've owned for weeks/months? No. Put a library sticker on it...NEXT DAY.)
...AND THERE IS ANOTHER ONE SCHEDULED FOR RELEASE THIS YEAR. No! Overload! Overlooooooad!
Oof, I hope she does not go the way of Jewel, with a shaky fourth and then burning out forever.
Anyway, who wants to talk about their favorite songs on these CDs?
The only other music I wanted to mention was that I was digging around my flash drive, found a folder called "music," and discovered some MP3s of tracks I had burned to CD and then deleted off the hard drive. The most important one is "Havendance." (I uploaded my copy to make sure you were hearing the same sound)
I go through boom/bust cycles when it comes to concert band music - I amassed quite a collection while I was in band - and I've been in a "bust" cycle for a while now, the instruments not speaking to me like they used to, but this song brought it all back. The top-tier band got to play it when I was in 10th grade and I was so jealous.
...oh no I just found all my "Band Concert Music" mix CDs. If another post turns up in the near future, try to act surprised.
P.S. I JUST WANT TO LIE DOWN AND WATCH MOVIES/MINDLESS TELEVISION. *sobs* WHY ARE THERE STILL SO MANY SHOPS AND SO MANY PROBLEMS.