For better or worse, we’re all in this together.
We all have personal, intimate relationships with music. Certain artists, songs, or albums can mean many different things to many different people. Sometimes you fall in love and want to run away and elope with a song, despite the opinions of your friends and family. Other times you thumb through old records and reminisce about the first time you heard that song and how right everything felt all those years ago.
Our relationship with music is not too different from the dysfunctional marriage(s) we anxiously anticipate. Maybe it will all work out, maybe it won’t. The point is: you should never have a lame wedding. Married to the Music is a new weekly section borrowing the ridiculous and enjoyable tradition brides often endure before they walk down the aisle.
Each week we will feature 4 selected songs:
Something Old: A song that is at least 20 years old.
Something New: A song that is less than 3 months old.
Something Borrowed: A cover song.
Something Blue: A song that is melancholy, dark, depressing, or just plain sad.
Cibo Matto | “Sugar Water”
This song barely meets my own requirements for the Old song selection as the album Viva! La Woman was released January 16, 1996, so if you reading this after midnight tonight it makes the +20 year cut-off. Cibo Matto is an Italian name (translation “crazy food”) for two Japanese women (Yuka Honda and Miho Hatori) in a band based out of New York City. Their lyrics are abstract and surreal: “I’m riding on a camel that has big eyes / The buildings are changing into coconut trees / Little by little / When a black cat crosses my path.” Hatori’s half-spoken/half-sung lyrics create a dreamlike atmosphere layered over a heavy trip-hop drum loop with a wailing voice sample in the background. The iconic split-screen music video was created by famed experimental director Michel Gondry. Gondry is known for his signature playful, illusory directing style in everything from advertisements (Levi’s, Adidas, BMW) to music videos (Daft Punk, The White Stripes, Björk) to feature films (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Be Kind Rewind, The Green Hornet). Honda and Hatori are each filmed in a single continuous shot with one moving forward while the other in reverse until their paths cross and their roles in time and space have interchanged.
Amber Arcades | “Turning Light”
Dutch musician Amber Arcades (aka Annelotte de Graaf) premiered “Turning Light” this week. The uptempo dream-pop song was recorded on a whim during an impromptu 5 AM restless and jetlagged studio session. Arcades channels the hypnagogia of the recording process through the sweeping synths and relentless, thin drum pattern. Her ethereal voice reminds me of the late Trish Keenan’s from Broadcast (who tragically died 5 years ago yesterday) in the way her melodies effortlessly bounce up and around the music like a firefly in the dark. Arcades’ album is due to be released through Heavenly Recordings this Spring.
Anika | “I Go To Sleep” (Ray Davies cover)
“I Go To Sleep” was written and recorded in 1965 as a demo by The Kinks’ singer/songwriter/guitar player/artistic geist Ray Davies. Instead of appearing on a Kinks album, Davies was willing to sell the song to whoever wanted to record it. Takers included British pop groupThe Applejacks, jazz songstress Peggy Lee with an orchestra, and Cher for her debut album All I Really Want to Do — all in 1965! The song has since been covered by many other different artists, most notably The Pretenders in 1981 which rose to #7 on the UK Singles chart. British/German singer/songwriter Anika’s 2010 self-titled debut album features her take on “I Go To Sleep.” Her version utilizes the thud of a synth kick-drum pulsing to keep time while her Nico-esque breathy vocals float in the air like a cloud of smoke.
Courtney Barnett | “Depreston”
Australian singer/songwriter Courtney Barnett released “Depreston” as a single off her fantastic debut album Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit last year, landing her a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist. The simple two-chord riff came from Barnett learning the chords of Australian indie rock group The Go-Betweens’ 1988 single “Streets of your Town” and transforming into a similar albeit more somber version. It’s slow and repetitive, almost painting a gray-scale picture of a boring drive around a sleepy town where not much happens (hence the official music video’s triplicated views of just that). While house-hunting in Preston, a small suburb outside Melbourne, Australia, Barnett viewed a home of a woman who recently passed away which sparked feelings of intrusion and curiosity. Barnett walked around the house observing the woman’s personal possessions more than the property itself and began to build an idea of who this woman was and the type of life she lived. The house became a home. The hook that repeats, “If you’ve got a spare half a million / you could knock it down and start rebuilding” is the advice the realtor gave to Barnett during the open house. What a metaphor. The lyrics drift back and forth between Barnett imagining a quieter life outside a major city, her imagined memories of the former occupant, and the crossroads she stands at where her malaise of Suburbia contrasts with life priorities as she gets older.