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.
"Variation does not mean evolution. If an artist varies his mode of expression this only means that he has changed his manner of thinking, and in changing, it might be for the better or it might be for the worse." - Pablo Picasso
The mark of a great Artist is their ability to evolve, to challenge themselves to create new art through different mediums and not succumb to trends or cocoon within their comfort zone. Refusing to be easily categorized or aesthetically pinned down is not always easy and the risk is not always recommended, but the Artist (capital A) is not solely interested in one medium. No, no. Pure artists strike when inspiration hits them and their means know no bounds. Sure, they may be identified with a certain medium by their audience. They may even have found fame and fortune in one form, but that does not quell another form's relentless call. The Artist is hungry. The Artist yearns to create and express. Their passions instruct their creations, not the other way around. Societal expectations be damned, the Artist will not be confined to what anyone else believes their mode of media should or can only be. Some may have honest intentions but lack the talent and no matter how their valiant efforts, they fly to close to the sun and miss the mark. And beware! Impostors lurk around every corner as feaux artists (lower case a) attempt to diversify merely as a savvy business venture. The few lucky ones, however, quietly release humble ventures to critical , sometimes even commercial, acclaim. In this week's Married to the Music we look at four artists who may be known for their work as actors, but have also released musical projects that are actually worth listening to.
Seona Dancing (Ricky Gervais) | "More To Lose"
Long before he created The Office or hosted the Golden Globes, Ricky Gervais and college friend Bill Macrae formed a New Wave pop group known as Seona Dancing. Though this single did not even crack the Top 100 UK Singles Chart when released in 1984, it did achieve mild success in the Philippines in 1985, despite the band already broken up by that point. A Manila radio station billed the song "Fade" by Medium in an attempt to confuse other radio DJ's from locating the song to play on their own stations. Eventually, a rival station figured out the song's true singer and title and the track became a giant hit throughout the country.
Daddy (James Franco) | "Lime Green Dress"
Actor/director/model/writer/painter/poet/student/teacher/essayist/Oscars host/musician James Franco has become notorious for his interdisciplinary methodology. Whether or not his art outside acting is well received or panned, Franco continues to create. On March 18 he will release an album for his band Daddy titled Let Me Get What I Want, which is not only inspired by indie gods The Smiths, but Franco was actually able to enlist Smiths' bassist Andy Rourke to play on every single song. According to Franco, "Lime Green Dress" is about "the terror and frisson of losing one's innocence to the bad boy."
Michael Cera | "Clay Pigeons" (Blaze Foley cover)
Though he has been closely tied to music through past projects like Juno, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, and Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, no one expected Michael Cera to quietly release an entire album of lo-fi indie folk music overnight. He did just that in August 2014 with his endearing album true that. The initial promotion came from his Superbad cohort Jonah Hill in a simple, thoughtful tweet. His cover of "Clay Pigeons" still features American country-folk singer Blaze Foley's actual vocal track with Cera harmonizing above. In an interview with Stereogum, Cera said, "One night I just started playing it and realized I couldn’t do the lead vocals. Blaze Foley’s original lead vocal in the song is this really low melody line. I sang a harmony line to it and kept the lead vocals, because I realized that was the only way I could sing the song. And then I was sitting up late one night and just recording it, and adding to it. It was just a song I really liked and spent a lot of time with one night. I think it’s beautiful."
Dead Man's Bones (Ryan Gosling) | "Buried In Water"
2009 saw the release of Dead Man's Bones, the self-titled concept album for Hollywood hunk and anthropomorphized internet meme Ryan Gosling's ghost-chamber pop (a genre I just coined but I can't think of a better descriptor) band alongside accomplice Zach Shields and the child choir of Los Angeles's Silverlake Conservatory of Music. The album was released just before Halloween and the music fits the vibe: morbid and haunting while still embracing the dark fun and campiness of a day that celebrates death, monsters, and ghouls with costumes, candy, and parties. Legend has it, when Gosling and Shields met in 2005 they soon realized they both had a strong admiration for ghosts and Disneyland's Haunted Mansion. They attempted to create a stage play about a monster-ghost-love-story. The play became costly and time consuming so the duo decided to shrink the project into just the conceived soundtrack, which became this standalone album. Several music videos were made and a few tour dates played, but lately Dead Man's Bones has returned to the grave it climbed out of several years ago. Who knows if and when we will see them rise again.