28 April 2008

There’s a big a big hard sun beating on the big people in the big hard world...



If ever there were a perfect symbiotic relationship between a film and a soundtrack it would be, hands down, Into The Wild. The story of an overly intelligent, idealistic and adventurous soul, the film, based on Jon Krakauer’s book of the same title retells the true story of a recent college graduate, Chris “Alex” McCandless, who leaves his cushy, privileged life behind to travel the country with the intent of conquering the Alaskan Wilderness. As we follow “Alex” (the name he takes to free himself of his WASPY upbringing and to avoid being located by his family) we are led on a journey of self discovery both within Alex and those he touches along the way of his two year sojourn. No one he comes in contact with is left unmoved; no one escapes his hypnotizing view on the material world.

So it is when the film begins and the voice of Eddie Vedder starts to ring out. While “Hard Sun” is written by Gordon Peterson, the rest of the songs, including “Rise” and “Far Behind”, other prominent songs we hear throughout, are penned by Vedder himself. As we follow Alex we hear Vedder somehow saying all that Alex is unable to say. The music becomes another character, or really, another facet of Alex.


When I walk beside her
I am the better man
when i look to leave her
I always stagger back again

Once I built an ivory tower
so I could worship from above
when I climb down to be set free
she took me in again

There’s a big
a big hard sun
beating on the big people
in the big hard world

When she comes to greet me
she is mercy at my feet
I see her inner charm
she just throws it back at me

Once I dug an early grave
to find a better land
she just smiled and laughed at me
and took her rules back again


Once I stood to lose her
and I saw what i had done
bowed down and threw away the hours
of her garden and her sun

So I tried to want her
I turned to see her weep
40 days and 40 nights
and its still coming down on me

[Hard Sun lyrics on http://www.metrolyrics.com]

There is a subtle pain one witnesses when watching/listening to this film. A young man struggling to find his voice thrusts himself into any adventure that comes his way and embraces the world at his feet. Initially penniless (he gave the remainder of his $24,000 college fund to Oxfam) he grabs any job he can to get him to his next destination – sometimes unknown, sometimes haphazardly, but ultimately as the miles and months move along he knows Alaska is where he will find his final truth. That is where he believes the rest of the answers lie – in the solitude and the quiet of The Great Wilderness; only then can the answers within him be fully realized.

It is hard to imagine this film without the sometimes thundering music and insight that Eddie Vedder provides. Having read the book in 1996 when it came out I wonder if he did the same in order to really understand Alex’s heart, soul and desires for the world. Somehow Vedder really ‘gets’ him – really taps ‘into the wild’ that was in Alex. Perhaps we can all understand his need to question, be free and to take those brave steps to leave it all behind, but few of us actually go. His misanthropic leanings, as well as his inexperience (and some might say, stupidity) are ultimately his downfall. Simultaneously the one thing he was escaping most in the end turns out to be what he craves the most. There is a cruel and heartbreaking irony to this fact – something that we hear and feel as we take this journey with Alex, Eddie and Sean Penn the writer/director of the film.


Take Leave
the conscious mind
Found myself
to be so inclined

Why sleep
in discontent?
Oh the price
of companionship

My shadow runs with me
underneath the Big Wide Sun
My shadow comes with me
as we leave it all
we leave it all Far Behind

Empty pockets will
Allow a greater
Sense of wealth
Why contain yourself
Like any other
Book on the shelf

My shadow lays with me
underneath the Big Wide Sun
My shadow stays with me
as we leave it all
we leave it all Far Behind

Subtle voices in the wind,
Hear the truth they're telling
A world begins where the road ends
Watch me leave it all behind

Far Behind

Far Behind

[Far Behind lyrics on http://www.metrolyrics.com]


Will I walk the long road?
I cannot say
There's no need to say goodbye
Oh, the pressure's building
All the memories going round
Round, round, round...
I have wished for so long...
Now I wish for you again
And the wind keeps blowin'
And the sky keeps turning grey
And the sun is set
The sun won't never rise again
I have wished for so long ...
Now I wish for you again
I have wished for so long...
Now I wish for you today
Will I walk the long road? (3x)

[The Long Road lyrics on http://www.metrolyrics.com]

I can’t say enough how amazing, powerful and haunting this film was. Thankfully it had been so many years since reading the book that much of it felt new whilst I was taken on the long rivers journey that is this piece of work – both musically and visually. Not only did Eddie Vedder capture Alex – it would not have been so without Jon Krakauer and Sean Penn and their deep love and compassion for the man that was Chris, the man that was Alex, and all the conflict and understanding that made him who he was and made his story so compelling. Stupid or not – he was braver than most of us could ever hope to be.

Do yourself a favour - don’t wait for the DVD – see this on a HUGE screen – you will be glad did.

Thanks for tuning in…Until next week….CHEERS!!

HARD SUN video:

21 April 2008

In the easy silence that you make for me it’s ok if there’s nothing left to say to me…

According to Webster’s Dictionary the definition of Freedom Of Speech is the following: Noun
1. Guaranteed by the 1st amendment to the US constitution.
2. ….is the right to freely state one's opinions and ideas.

Basically, Freedom Of Speech is all well and good as long as you don’t do it in a public forum. Such is the thrust behind the documentary “Shut Up & Sing” about the controversy and fallout of the Dixie Chicks’ 2003 statement at a sold out show at London’s Shepard’s Bush Empire that they were embarrassed that President Bush was from Texas. When you watch the footage of this fateful moment – which would unknowingly become a catalyst that would upend their lives both professionally and personally – it’s apparent that it was very simple between song banter – Natalie Maines was laughing and making light of what would later become a very embarrassing moment in U.S. history. She was expressing what most were fearful of saying but many were thinking. Somehow the press got wind of this statement – blew it out of proportion – fanned the flames and crucified her for having an opinion as did the many minions of die hard country music fans.

As the film unfolds in non –linear story telling you simultaneously witness the very public and private heartbreaking repercussions of the off the cuff statement and the healing that goes along with such an extraordinary moment. At the time this was going on I would not have called myself a fan of their music – sure I liked a song here and there but only started to really pay attention when this shit hit the fan. I very vocally applauded Ms. Maines’ courage and strength to speak out against the impending doom of War and misguided decisions - but until watching this film I had no idea just how amazing these three women really are. As the band rolls with the tide and tries to adjust to the rising swell of ‘Dixie Twit’ sentiment you witness a strengthening and unity among these artists that later informs their writing and their choices to keep moving forward. While it is clearly not an easy path that has been put in front of them never is there a mention of giving up and disbanding. In fact, it’s quite the opposite which therein proves further the point that the strength was there all along. Martie Maguire and Emily Robison steadfastly stand behind their band mate and support Natalie’s rock hard will to carry on and not take back the words that put their careers, and in one instance, their lives in peril. When, towards the end of the film Martie, in tears, discusses how she wouldn’t change a thing and would give it all up if Natalie would just realize that the journey they are on is worth every moment and is more precious than their careers as an entity, you can’t help but cry along with her as you realize that sometimes the journey we don’t plan can be the one that is the most fulfilling.

One of the more interesting sides to this film is that I found myself having some compassion for the radio stations that were pressured by their fans and their corporate owners into discontinuing playing the Chicks music. You could see that a few of the Dj’s they interviewed simply had their hands tied and had to answer to the small minded listeners that were in effect paying the bills. But, I did find myself being angered by the blatant disregard for the very right we were all born into and the corporate blandness that has overtaken radio. Not that this ‘we won’t play your music’ thing is anything new – it did, after all, happen to The Beatles when John Lennon mentioned something about them being ‘bigger than Jesus’. But still, some part of me had hoped that minds had gotten bigger since the 60’s not smaller. But perhaps this is more a statement of where this country is today thanks to our current and soon to be former President – not where we’ve been and seem to be returning. Of course, interestingly enough, many of the people who protested outside their concerts and stomped on their CD’s are, I’m guessing, having a change of heart as The President’s approval rating for this War falls lower and lower. Hmmm…..

One of the cool things about this film is that you get an insider’s look into not only the backstage lives of these three women and their traveling families but you get to witness their recording process and simultaneous renewal as they get back into the studio to record last year’s release Taking The Long Way. I don’t think you need to be a musician to appreciate their style of recording live and just how incredibly talented these women and those around them are. These Chicks can not only sing they can play the hell out of their many instruments - they are the real deal – they are more than an image and a ‘product’ they are very talented women in every aspect of musicianship.

As we go back and forth between 2003 and 2006 you see emerging these artists who’s greatest gift is not only that they kept moving forward and maintained their position that Natalie had every right to say what she said but they channeled their ups and downs into and exceptional and strength inspiring CD. Every lyric (co- written by Dan Wilson and the Chicks) is a testament to faith, strong will, survival, inner peace, and the need to stand up for what we believe in with no regrets and no apologies.

From “Not Ready To Make Nice”:

“I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell and
I don’t have time to go round and round and round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
‘Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should

I know you said
Can’t you just get over it
It turned my whole world around
And I kind of like it

I made my bed and I sleep like a baby
With no regrets and I don’t mind sayin’
It’s a sad sad story when a mother will teach her
Daughter that she ought to hate a perfect stranger
And how in the world can the words that I said
Send somebody so over the edge
That they’d write me a letter
Sayin’ that I better shut up and sing
Or my life will be over….”

At the end of the film when the girls go back to Shepards Bush in 2006 to perform again amongst rousing cheers and yet another sold out show one gets the feeling of life coming full circle, life moving on and, again, the strength it takes to do so. When at some point Natalie Maines repeats that famous statement you realize you are witnessing the underdog winning and Freedom Of Speech fearlessly prevailing. I was brought to tears and deeply moved when they performed my favourite song, “Easy Silence” which in many ways sums it all up.

“When the calls and conversations
Accidents and accusations
Messages and misperceptions
Paralyze my mind

Busses, cars, and airplanes leaving
Burning fumes of gasoline
And everyone is running
And I come to find a refuge in the

Easy silence that you make for me
It's okay when there's nothing more to say to me
And the peaceful quiet you create for me
And the way you keep the world at bay for me
The way you keep the world at bay

Monkeys on the barricades
Are warning us to back away
They form commissions trying to find
The next one they can crucify

And anger plays on every station
Answers only make more questions
I need something to believe in
Breathe in sanctuary in the

Easy silence that you make for me
It's okay when there's nothing more to say to me
And the peaceful quiet you create for me
And the way you keep the world at bay for me
The way you keep the world at bay

Children lose their youth too soon
Watching war made us immune
And I've got all the world to lose
But I just want to hold on to the

Easy silence that you make for me
It's okay when there's nothing more to say to me
And the peaceful quiet you create for me
And the way you keep the world at bay for me

The easy silence that you make for me
It's okay when there's nothing more to say to me
And the peaceful quiet you create for me
And the way you keep the world at bay for me
The way you keep the world at bay for me
The way you keep the world at bay”

(Both lyrics courtesy of www.azlyrics.com)

Needless to say after watching “Shut Up & Sing” I now consider myself a fan of these women (it’s hard not to) and I can’t say enough how great a CD Taking The Long Way is - now even more so after learning about the back story. These women have taken a lot of grief for voicing an opinion and they had every right to do so as afforded by the Constitution Of The United States. We should applaud them not crucify them. So if you get a chance watch this DVD, do it – it just might change your mind about where we are and where we’re headed as a nation – even if you don’t consider yourself a fan of The Dixie Chicks – it’s still a very interesting story.

Thanks for tuning in…Until next week….CHEERS!!

Here they are from last year’s Grammy Awards singing “Not Ready To Make Nice”:

13 April 2008

Out in the harbor the ships come in, it's Christmastime…All that I want, all that I want…

All That I Want

Words and music by Deb Talan and Steve Tannen

Out in the harbor
The ships come in, it's Christmastime
The kids all holler carols 'cross the water
Stars that shine

All that I want, all that I want

Above the rooftops
The full moon dips its golden spoon

I wait on clip-clops
Deer might fly
Why not? I met you

All that I want, all that I want

And when the night is falling

Down the sky at midnight
Another year is stalling
Far away a good bye, good night

All that I want., all that I want, all that I want

So small a turning
The world grows older every day

An ache, a yearning 

Soften when I hear you say

All that I want, all that I want

And when the cold wind's blowing

Snow drifts through the pine trees

In houses lights are glowing

Likewise in your eyes that find me here
With all that I want.

Out in the harbor

The ships come in, it's Christmastime

It's Christmastime

It's Christmastime.

Courtesy of: http://www.theweepies.com

Ah….Tivo….it’s a great invention and a far leap ahead of the days whence time my mother would record “Days Of Our Lives’’ on our huge VCR (her best friend from acting school used to be on the show so she got hooked - and – this is hard to admit in such a public forum – so did I – to this day I still watch the show – maybe it’s more about Mom and less about the show – not that she can’t watch from Heaven – but you know – like I did in the summers when she came home for lunch I would watch it with her and thusly get that many more minutes to be by her side – something I’m very grateful for now). No more tapes to mess up the joint or swap out after a show, no by-products to destroy at the end of usefulness and it’s a ton easier to set up something to record. But, as Abby pointed out this morning as she explained how she’d first heard “All That I Want” from The Weepies, in this day and age when many an artist are getting noticed because of commercials, it’s easy to miss out on some of these cooler songs being used when you’re busy fast-forwarding through the advertisements.

Rightfully so – most ads are hardly worth the time spent on creating them since so many of them are LESS than creative – and frankly I don’t need to hear The Beatles (thank you Michael Jackson), Led Zeppelin, The Who or well – I think I’ve blocked out any other examples I could come with but you get the point – pushing products and promoting the very commercialism that they ‘protested’ against. But for some reason the idea of being turned on to a new artist via this venue is exciting to me. Maybe it’s because I don’t have feelings or emotions tied to these songs the way that I would if I were listening to a CD on my own time. But hearing them for the first time pushing JC Penney or say Landon Pigg (whom I was already a fan of) using a new song to promote a diamond company, makes it somehow ok in my brain. Or maybe it’s the idea of the underdog, unknown musician, getting some much deserved notice and perhaps being able to pay their rent for a few months or more because of the boost in sales from the attention they are receiving from a national campaign.

Either way it’s a cool thing - and while I’m not going to stop using the fast forward button any time soon – I will use it perhaps a little less often so I don’t miss out on becoming a new fan of a band I may not be hearing as frequently on my internet radio stations (WFUV and WMVY respectively).


I don’t know who this chick is (Abby turned me on to her) – but she’s hilarious…check out her blog:

The guy who plays Jerry Espensen on “Boston Legal”, Christian Clemenson, dresses in real life the way you would expect his character to dress on his down time - and is taller than I thought.

My twelve-year old Maine Coon Cat loves oatmeal raisin cookies.

I’m deeply fascinated by the cops and will stop in my tracks if I think there’s even a chance of them pulling someone over.

Ingrid Michaelson’s song “The Way I Am” is a little too much fun to listen to.

For some reason Abby and I keep seeing Meg Ryan around – usually driving her car.

Sunday mornings are perfect for listening to Mary Chapin Carpenter.

“Nanny McPhee” is a great movie – even for adults!

Michael Chiklis played High School football against Doug Flutie – how cool is that?!?!?

My friend, and talented musician, Luis Oliart, is playing at Ghengis Cohen on 10 May…well worth saving the date. www.myspace.com/oliartmusic

Having a day off to spend with my favourite person, my favourite cat and some home cooked food truly makes me happy and is sometimes all that I want.

Thanks for tuning in….Until next week…CHEERS!!

Landon Pigg's A Diamond is Forever commercial:

07 April 2008

Today has been a day filled with heartaches but tonight I'll be happy again…

You can’t go wrong with Loretta Lynn. Even though I don’t consider myself to be a country music fan I can’t ignore it’s relevance and importance. There are times, indeed, when the heartache oft referenced in their lyrics hits the nail on the head and strikes a deep chord. Maybe it’s the dust, the dirt, the gritty feeling under the nails of those who write the songs that truly allow the expression of the pain that we can all feel.

Certainly Jay Lee Webb, who wrote “Today Has Been A Day” way back in 1966, has captured how I’m feeling today and no doubt Loretta Lynn, in a way that only she can, put more heartache into the song. It’s a two way street; you have great lyrics, but you need a great artist to hit the homerun and no matter how I feel about country music as a genre (odd considering I lived in North Carolina and Tennessee as a child before moving to Connecticut), there’s no denying that Loretta Lynn hits a homerun every time she opens her mouth.

Thanks for tuning in…Until next week…CHEERS!!