Denny Sinnoh's "Akihabara Starlight"

Posts tagged ‘Classic Rock’

“Just another sad old man, all alone and dying of cancer.”

PinkFloydAnimalTourTee

Sit back down you! If you are drinking my beer, you are going to have to listen to my “old man” music. Forget that “hippy-hoppy” crap for a few minutes, and learn some music history.

This is “Dogs” by Pink Floyd, from their great 1977 LP “Animals”. The record was a concept album (slight sarcastic inflection in Denny’s voice). Each song title describes a different domestic animal. The central theme is that people often are like the animals. Each describes some of the worst aspects of humanity. People might be greedy pigs, are often docile sheep, and may live in a dog-eat-dog world.

You are going to need the lyric sheet. I am posting the full lyrics at the end of this post, if you want to view them while you listen to this SEVENTEEN-MINUTE PROGRESSIVE ROCK SONG.

Oh, right you use your phone for everything. Try to follow along.  The song is about how people act like aggressive dogs. The song is directed at businessmen in particular. My favorite lyrical part captures very clearly how I view the cutthroat world of business.

After a while, you can work on points for style.
Like the club tie, and the firm handshake,
A certain look in the eye and an easy smile.

You have to be trusted by the people that you lie to,
So that when they turn their backs on you,
You’ll get the chance to put the knife in.

The song then describes one unlucky company man who dedicates his life to pursuing money, but in the end has accumulated nothing of true value.  Near the end he faces disillusionment with the corporate world, and how one must act in order to survive in it. The ruthless businessman must face death, realizing that he is unloved, and has wasted his life in the pursuit of financial gain. Someday you will understand the meaning of the line: “it’s too late to lose the weight you used to need to throw around.”

I can remember seeing Pink Floyd performing this live on their 1977 tour. During this song, the band had inflated blimps which hovered over the stage. The blimps were of such as objects as a car, a TV set, refrigerator, etc. All of these are objects which the protagonist sacrificed his life for.

baloons.inflatable family

Oh, you want to hear more of my “war stories” from rock life in the 1970s do you? Let me tell you a little more about the Pink Floyd 1977 tour. The band would only play five cities in North America. I saw them in Cleveland, Ohio.

It was a hot and humid summer day. Fortunately it was partly cloudy, thus I avoided a lot of sunburn …

BB-Pink-Floyd-1977-Cleveland-Stadium-admission-ticket

“General Admission” – meaning you have to fight drug addicts for a place on the baseball field close to the stage.

80,000 potheads filled the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium. I may have been the ONLY CLEAR-HEADED person in the entire stadium.

I hate marijuana. It never made me “high” — just stupid.  It was tough growing up in the 1970s when so many of my peers were using weed to attain euphoria. Everyone else would mellow out and feel great. Marijuana turns me into a paranoid psychopath. Lucky you if you can use it as a euphoric … er … I mean, to treat your glaucoma.   Luckily I attended this drug fest accompanied only by my stoner friends and a gallon jug of green Gatorade. (My anti-drug stance will have to wait for another post. I know, I’m a hypocrite because I drink like a tree). I don’t like drug culture, but I love the “altered state” which Pink Floyd transported me too. Hypnotic, perhaps ethereal, but with a small sense of underlying dread.

Denny is NOT making this up: To this day I can remember how the show opened. The crowd was waiting for the show, when all of a sudden a 747 jet airliner flies DIRECTLY OVER THE STADIUM. I mean it flew just above the top of the structure. No one had ever seen anything like it. In my minds eye, I can still remember … at least I think I do … maybe I embellish it now … seeing people inside the plane WAVING OUT THE WINDOW. That is HOW CLOSE the band plane flew to the top of the stadium. It was very quick, and as far as I know, there is no photographic evidence of the flight.Today (post- 9/11) of course, you could never get an airplane that close to that big of a crowd. I would find out later that Pink Floyd was cited for the FAA infraction.

The stoned crowd was of course freaked out. While we sat there all agog, no one noticed that the band had already taken the stage and was already playing “Sheep”. This was a great practical joke on a crowd that was already hallucinating. I guess we really were all easily manipulated sheep … good one guys!

Find the young Denny.

Find the young Denny.

Oh, back to “Dogs” … there is that one part right after the “dragged down by the stone” lyric where the word “stone” is repeated, then phased-synthesized so that the word slowly becomes a sound instead of a word. It is a good example of the dreamlike steam-of-consciousness aspect of Pink Floyd music. Also, if you are listening to this — your dog may come running into the room, as the song also has some real dog-barking, and synthesized dog sounds. Legend has it — there are also sounds which only a dog can hear are included. Test it out for yourself.

What do you mean it is depressing? Of course it is dark … it is ART! A lot of Pink Floyd is kind of depressing … and kind of scary. Like a bad dream.

It was a great show. The band played the full “Animals” and “Wish-You-Were-Here” albums. The WYWH set had a big-screen animated movie to accompany it. I once saw a song from it on VH1, but I have been looking forever for the full movie. Like a lot of PF, it will put you into a trance.

Unfortunately, people CAN be animals. I saw a lot of bad behavior. Plenty of mean dogs, sloppy pigs and clueless sheep. One of my friends had his pockets picked and lost his ticket, There was a lot of fighting between the druggies of course. The police were harassing a lot of the stoners, but there is no way that they could arrest all 80,000, so they had to let a lot of drug use slide.

I was very saddened to see that inebriated fuckwads kept trying to take down the animal balloons as they flew over the crowd. Jerks were grabbing the tethers. At one point, the show had to stop so that an announcement could be made to stop pulling down the pig.

REFERENCES:

See this radio station blog for further description, but it looks like they got it mostly right.

http://wncx.cbslocal.com/2014/06/19/pink-floyd-makes-history-at-world-series-of-rock-77/

Other blogger’s hazy memories can also be read here.

http://www.pinkfloydonline.com/forums/showthread.php?tid=12468

Facebook (ugh) has a page dedicated to the 1977 tour. Some Clevo photos may be seen there.

https://www.facebook.com/PinkFloydAnimalsTour1977

Some historic PF photos are also observable here.

http://concertstagedesign.blogspot.com/2011/01/pink-floyd-in-flesh-tour-1977.html

Don’t pull down the Pig!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HEB2P13T3tM

DOGS (Written by David Gilmour and Roger Waters)

You gotta be crazy, you gotta have a real need.
You gotta sleep on your toes, and when you’re on the street,
You gotta be able to pick out the easy meat with your eyes closed.
And then moving in silently, down wind and out of sight,
You gotta strike when the moment is right without thinking.

And after a while, you can work on points for style.
Like the club tie, and the firm handshake,
A certain look in the eye and an easy smile.
You have to be trusted by the people that you lie to,
So that when they turn their backs on you,
You’ll get the chance to put the knife in.

You gotta keep one eye looking over your shoulder.
You know it’s going to get harder, and harder, and harder as you
get older.
And in the end you’ll pack up and fly down south,
Hide your head in the sand,
Just another sad old man,
All alone and dying of cancer.

And when you loose control, you’ll reap the harvest you have sown.
And as the fear grows, the bad blood slows and turns to stone.
And it’s too late to lose the weight you used to need to throw
around.
So have a good drown, as you go down, all alone,
Dragged down by the stone… (stone … stone …)
[instrumental]
I gotta admit that I’m a little bit confused.
Sometimes it seems to me as if I’m just being used.
Gotta stay awake, gotta try and shake off this creeping malaise.
If I don’t stand my own ground, how can I find my way out of this
maze?

Deaf, dumb, and blind, you just keep on pretending
That everyone’s expendable and no-one has a real friend.
And it seems to you the thing to do would be to isolate the winner
And everything’s done under the sun,
And you believe at heart, everyone’s a killer.

Who was born in a house full of pain.
Who was trained not to spit in the fan.
Who was told what to do by the man.
Who was broken by trained personnel.
Who was fitted with collar and chain.
Who was given a pat on the back.
Who was breaking away from the pack.
Who was only a stranger at home.
Who was ground down in the end.
Who was found dead on the phone.
Who was dragged down by the stone.

——————–

Regarding the “Animals” album: I wondered why there were not more songs about more animals. If people behave like Sheep, Pigs and Dogs, then why not “Monkeys”? People basically are like monkeys, so why not another animal song. Yes, humanity is often ape-like. We are basically “monkeys” … just a bunch of wild monkeys. Just a bunch of masturbating, feces-throwing, infant cannibalizing  monkeys.

Starlight: … 1977? (Denny slaps forehead).

Pokémon Nicknames: Spinda

elaine dance giphy

Elaine doing “Teeter Dance” . Confused now?

Spinda (in Japanese: パッチール  “Patcheel”) is a Normal-type Pokémon. Basically, Spinda is a spinning panda, however its ears are long enough for Spinda do be some type of rabbit. Spinda would make an adorable plushie.

Spinda does not evolve from or into any other Pokémon, but perhaps a future game will feature a “Mega-Evolution Spinda” with even more evolved dance moves! It is interesting that no two Spinda have the exact same spots!

It is interesting that no two Spinda have the exact same spots!

I suggest the name “Elaine” or “Benes” for female Spinda. You may remember the Elaine Benes character from the 1990s TV series Seinfeld. Elaine is a sophisticated New Yorker, who oddly has terrible dance moves. The joke is that she thinks she is a great dancer, but is clueless as to how awkward and embarrassing she really is. Here is a clip.

The awkward dancing is appropriate, because Spinda’s signature move is “Teeter Dance” which confuses all surrounding Pokémon. The move is great for triple battles, because Spinda will confuse all of the opponents. Be careful however, as your other two Pokémon will also become confused. Make sure your Pokémon have a Lum Berry or have an ability which negates confusion.

I also like the name “Shadowdancer. I have also used the name “Spice Girl” after the dated British singing group The Spice Girls.

Oddly, I never found them to be the least bit sexy. I think I was just confused ...

Oddly, I never found them to be the least bit sexy. I think I was just confused …

“Chubby” or “Checker” may also be good for males. The name of the famous 1950s singer with writers block. The story with Chubby Checker was that after he had a big hit with The Twist, he could only compose songs which sounded exactly like “The Twist”. His follow-up hit was called Let’s Twist Again, which used the same music as the original.  All his music was made for twist-type dancing. I should not be too critical however. If I am ever in an awkward predicament where I must dance to a rock song — guess what I do.

I have also named Spinda “The Twist”. I think it works better if you leave “The” in. “Watusi” or “The Watusi” is another cute name for the 1960s dance.

how to watusi small image

Both of these dances are mentioned in The Beatle’s Revolution #9, … but I digress.

A reasonable nickname might just be Spinda’s Japanese name Patcheel”  which should work for male or female.

Spinda.japanese

Please enjoy this Spinda cosplay slideshow!

“… Denny hurt himself in his confusion …”

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Please comment: What is the name for your confusing spinning panda rabbit?

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Pokémon Nicknames: Audino

audino_gijinka_17_by_ayaluthien-d8kzul7 great

Audino (in Japanese: タブンネ  “Tabunne”) is a Normal-type Pokémon.

audino plush on ama

Audino is the “hearing” Pokémon. Audino does not evolve from or into any other Pokémon, except that it can Mega-evolve into Mega Audino using the Audinite stone.

mega audino

I thought that the Mega-evolved Audino looked like it was wearing a lab coat, so I named a female Audino “Dr.Goodhead” after the character Dr. Holly Goodhead in the James Bond movie “MoonRaker”.

Bond ... Goodhead, Goodhead ... Bond.

Bond … Goodhead, Goodhead … Bond.

The “doctor” angle may be appropriate because Audino has been Nurse Joy’s assistant nurse.

Other names I have used: “Dino”, and “Dean-O”  – after the nickname for Dean Martin and other Italian singers. “Tin Ear” – after the early “funnel shaped” hearing aids. Later that term was used for those who are hard of hearing. “Tiffany” – as in the famous jewelry store and the singer. (I would like a Tiffany ear better than a “tin” ear.) It may be obvious to use “Audrey” – because this name sounds like Audino. I use the names for females, however at one time “Audrey” was used as a man’s name.

If you have a male Audino, I suggest the name “Tommy” – after the character in the rock opera by The Who. “Tommy Can You Hear Me?”

The Bulbagarden website has this description for Audino: Its auditory sense is astounding. It has a radar-like ability to understand its surrounding through slight sounds. It touches others with the feelers on its ears, using the sound of their heartbeats to tell how they are feeling.”  This reminds me of the Who’s deaf-dumb-and-blind “Pinball Wizard” and messianic  leader! (A fun scene from the movie Tommy is linked here.)

Another possibility is “Chi” or “Chobits”. Audino’s ears remind me of the female robot character  “Chi” from one of my favorite all-time anime series “Chobits”. Chi’s ears are a lot like Audinos. I wonder if Gamefreak meant Audino to be an homage to Chi.

cosplay_Chobits_Chii-11

Remember how Hideki found out where her “ON” button was located?

Perhaps “Chi Audino” , or “Persocom” or some variation of the Chobits/Persocom theme may be fun, especially if you loved that series as much as I did!

I know that it is a little dated now, but when it came out it was way ahead of its time, and the series holds up very well today!

Here is some Pokémon cosplay for lady Audinos.

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It is always good to train up in the wild against an Audino. You get a lot of training points for defeating Audino.

audino_by_humanoid_magpie-d3eifrr funny

If you want to train up your Fighting-type, it is super-effective against Audino’s Normal-type.

What do you call your hearing Pokémon?

Starlight: It has been fours years, since my son first taught me to play Pokémon with Pokémon Black and White.

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KIMONOS ON MONDAY: The “Kimonos Era” of RUSH.

rush_2112_chibi_ver_by_wasawasawa-d576vgg

“Chibi” version of Alex, Neil and Geddy !

I know what you are thinking: “Denny … you know that those are DUDES, right?”

Well, way back when I was a progressive rock/heavy metal teen, one of the bands I liked was RUSH – the subject of this special kimonos post.

One of the stories in the great Rush “rockumentary” – “Beyond The Lighted Stage” is the anecdote of how the band came to wear kimono robes as part of their stage show.  Rush were a great hard rock power trio, and their working-class fans were a “T-shirt and jeans” crowd. (Include me in that.) Geddy Lee also said in BTLS that he might have preferred to just wear jeans and T-shirts onstage, but the record company wanted them to have an “image”. Rush toured with KISS and other bands who had all kinds of crazy costumes. The group was assigned to find a “look”.

Hi Fellas! The record company wanted us to change our image!

Hi Fellas! The record company wanted us to change our image!

The members wondered what type of stage get-ups they might wear, in order to look like “rock stars”. One day while they were on a concert tour, they visited a shopping district where shops sold “ethnic” goods. A Japanese shop had kimono-robes  — and the rest is history.

rush wearing kimonos

The kimono-robes looked somewhat “futuristic” I suppose, which would fit with their sci-fi “2112” rock epic. I’ve noticed on many episodes of “Star Trek” and the like, that people from all these advanced civilizations on other planets always wear ROBES. Why the robes? Does wearing a robe make you smarter? Does it show that you are technologically and philosophically advanced? Maybe in the utopian future, people are so used to robots doing all the work that they are just too lazy to find pants. Or is it that in the future only dumb people will wear jeans? (Cough) … but I digress.

Thus this explains the Rush kimono period. I know what you are going to ask: “Denny, were these ridiculous outfits scoffed at?” Of course! … and this despite being the “glam rock” period of the 1970s with its ridiculous androgyny trend.

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During the BTLS doc, Geddy Lee tells a great story about he was always made fun of by the heavy metal group UFO (link here in new window). The guys in UFO considered the kimonos “effeminate” and would call them ladies bathrobes. Lee also said that the UFO dudes would sarcastically (and in a fem-voice) would call Geddy Lee “Glee” as in “Oh, Glee are you ready for your bath now …”. UFO would open for Rush, and they would nail pink ladies bath slippers to Geddy Lee’s microphone stand. “Oh, you forgot your slippers … GLEE …”

You can get a good look at the Rush robes in this performance of “Farewell to Kings”. I actually bought this LP record, the week it came out in 1978. Oy.

Rush Kimonos made a return in 2012, but fortunately not on the guys. Although this young lady is not in Rush, she was part of the stage show for Rush’s “Clockwork Angels” 2013 tour. The group had a much more elaborate “Steampunk”-type stage show than earlier years.

SteamKimonofor RUSH tour

This is an example of the “Steampunk kimonos” the ladies in the orchestra wore. The kimono looks amazing!  (Full concert linked here.)

Starlight: From the first time I heard “Check out this Rush album”?

… the light will have now reached star Rho Cancri (which has 3 planets) and would also have reached star HR3259 (which has 4 planets).

KEEP ROCKIN’ IN THOSE ROBES SPACE DUDES!!!

real men wear kimonos

 

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“I Can’t Pretend a Stranger Is A Long-Awaited Friend.”

neil peart i cant pretend

Great News! “Beyond The Lighted Stage” is now streaming on Netflix! It is my favorite “Rock Documentary” of all time. I had already seen it on Netflix DVD a couple of years ago, but since then — they put it on streaming! I have watched it another three times. I even like to have it on when I do chores around the house. Having said all that, my post today is not a review of that great 2010 documentary about Canada’s progressive rock band Rush. (That film will have to be the subject of another blog.)

My topic? Well, after watching this rock-doc, I could not help but be mucho-impressed with the persona life story of band’s drummer/lyricist Neil Peart. I was greatly inspired by the interviews with him. He is (arguably) the greatest rock drummer.

Mr. Peart is a GREAT MAN – and that is not an accolade I give out very often. I would have to put him up there with Buddha, George Washington, Mr. Spock, and the guy who invented the Wendy’s Triple with Cheese (hold the mayo).

When I watched Mr. Peart, I saw a talented rock-hero, but in his flaws, I also saw a lot of myself. He is a good role-model — and not just for his expertise on the drums. I think any young person should aspire to live a life as well as he has.

The documentary shows through interviews and home movies the story of Neil joining Rush. It also shows some earlier film of him as a little boy (He was a Canadian boy who could not ice-skate very well – which he admits caused him some trouble in his life.) He was a gawky, bullied teenager. After high school he studied music and — among other things, books about Objectivism while in England but returned to Canada and earned his chops playing in local rock bands. He was working in his family’s tractor supply store when he was asked to audition for Rush – as the original Rush drummer had health problems and could not tour. Neil played like a cross between Keith Moon and John Bonham — and was of course hired.

Neil Peart is not your typical rock drummer. Mr. Peart has always been an avid reader. He is no academic egghead, yet the man is very sharp, very witty, and very astute. His literate nature led to him becoming the main lyricist for Rush. I always liked how he often employed themes from history, mythology, literature, social-economics and science fiction.  Peart lyrics are sometimes a little like J.R.R. Tolkien …and sometimes like Isaac Asimov. Admittedly, rock critics often PANNED his songs for being pretentious and/or sophomoric – perhaps comparable to an English major at a liberal arts college. This is a great injustice. Ok, some lyrics are hokey, but others are very deep, very profound — even mystical. When you look at his entire body of work, it is indeed very ambitiousparticularly considering the lyrics are for a hard rock songs! Rush songs have also “borrowed” famous phrases from literature. This is not “ripping off Shakespeare” as some have claimed. Rather, Mr.Peart has referenced certain well known phrases for context and emphasis. His songs spoke to the generation of us alienated heavy-metal kids who had just enough education to be dangerous. Think 2112 – linked here.

The two other members of Rush – singer bassist Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson are very good about signing autographs. They like to interact with the press and the fans at these “meet and greet” events before concerts. Mr. Peart does not. He does not care for signing autographs, meeting and making small talk with fans, and has a reputation of being an anti-social sourpuss. (Yup, I know what that’s like.)

Nothing could be further from the truth. The documentary shows what a gentle, humorous and thoughtful man he is. You should do so well.

Damn, I wish I was a better writer.*

“Cast in this unlikely role
Ill-equipped to act
With insufficient tact
One must put up barriers
To keep oneself intact”

Some found N.P.’s brooding intensity to be off-putting. However, as Geddy Lee explained, “Neil is not anti-social , in fact he is very shy… He is not good at talking with fans because he is just not com-for-ta-ble.”

Neil Peart made a good point on this, at one point he said “When I was growing up I loved The Who, but I would never, ever think of going up to their hotel room after a concert and try to meet them.” The man is absolutely right. What is there to say in those situations really? Don’t be like these guys.

A poignant great part of the doc also explains what happened during a dark period of Mr. Peart’s life. One night, Neil and his wife Jacqueline were informed that their daughter Selena died in a horrific auto accident. As Mr. Peart and his wife struggled with their loss, Neil’s wife was diagnosed with cancer, and died a few months later. She lost her will to live on the night her daughter died. Peart said that his wife actually died of a “broken heart”. He called it “a slow suicide by apathy. She just didn’t care.”

Mr Peart struggled to cope. He considered himself “retired” from music.  In his grief, Neil Peart got on his motorcycle and rode. He cycled around North America. Eastern Canada to Alaska, to Baja Mexico, Belize and around again. 55,000 miles. He would just ride, as the feel of the road calmed what he called ‘his baby soul”. He was never recognized on the journey, and would be never approached when he would stop in small towns and cafés. His experience is chronicled in his book “Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road” (2002).  

travels on the healing road cover

I am currently reading this and highly recommend it. I know that he is a famous musician, but I feel connected via experience to Mr. Peart. He expresses many of the same feelings I have had about travel. 

Readers: My descriptions here cannot capture the virtues of this great man.

Mr. Peart’s official web page is linked here.

Please enjoy the Rush song “Limelight” in super-HD, and featuring these great lyrics linked here.

Lyrics are discussed on the SongFacts website linked here.

* “Those who wish to be / must put aside the alienation / get on with the fascination / the real relation / the underlying theme”

My more “grown up” reflections on the song “Wildfire”

ghost horse image

I found mysticism and beauty in a surprising place this past week. I have been haunted by a ghost horse for six days now. My recent post about nicknames for Ponyta included the song “Wildfire” by Michael Martin Murphey. At first, I was just being my usual goofy self, and I wanted to include this song about a horse I remembered from the 1970s.

It was a hit in the mid-70s. I must have heard it at least a hundred times on AM radio back then. I may have heard it many times, however I never actually listened to it.

Back then, I was a teenage rock-and-roller – I was listening to a lot of Aerosmith, KISS, Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, etc. I was a leather-clad hormone-driven heavy metal teen and too “cool” to listen to some hayseed song about a pony that broke down its stall. It could be said that I could not appreciate “Wildfire” because I was too much of a jackass.

Like too many of things in this life, we don’t realize the simple beauty of things right in front of us. Fortunately it was not too late for me to enjoy the mysticism and beauty now.

The emotions and the lyrics were lost on my teen self during that period, and I am sorry about that.  Last week, I prepared my Ponyta post, but the more I listened to the song, the more beautiful it became to me. I’m listening to it right now …

Thank you Mr. Murphey … I finally get it.

Before my words evaporate into the bogging ether, I want to share a couple of versions of the song, and I hope that you can find a special moment the way that I did.

The first is from a 2007 performance on “The David Letterman Show”. Paul Shaffer does a great job with the piano intro. The rest of the band seems really into it. Letterman himself is impressed and comes out to congratulate Mr. Murphey at the end. Mr. Murphey stresses certain words in the song in this version, but it becomes very heartfelt. You may not ever listen to much “Cowboy Music” but I hope that you can connect to the same emotions that I experienced. Don’t be so cynical — allow yourself to feel it.

The story from Wikipedia was that talk show host David Letterman loved the song. He would discuss with bandleader Paul Shaffer the meaning of the lyrics — particularly the line about “leave sodbustin’ behind” (that part gets to me too). Letterman described the song as “haunting and disturbingly mysterious, but always lovely,” and surmised that the performance would leave the studio audience with “a palpable sense of … mysticism, melancholy … and uplifting well-being.” They invited the singer to perform, and of course Mr. Murphey nailed it as seen here.

The second performance is longer and contains extended instrumentation. They lengthen the piano intro and ending. Both are wonderful. If you like, the original studio version is linked here. So many times I ignored it as it flowed out of a car’s AM radio …

Other references from Wikipedia: The song was made fun of by Dave Barry in an article he wrote about awkward songs (I do like Mr. Barry’s humor, but he was way off about this song). Of course, I was wrong to think it was a hokey song all those years ago. The song is also referenced in an episode of “The Simpsons”.  Lisa played the song for her pony on her saxophone. She introduced it by saying “This next song is also about a girl and her pony. It’s called ‘Wildfire’ “  I think that means it was a tribute!

The full lyrics are listed below. I will interpret them after.

She comes down from Yellow Mountain
On a dark flat land she rides
On a pony she named Wildfire
With a whirlwind by her side
On a cold Nebraska night

Oh, they say she died one winter
When there came a killing frost
And the pony she named Wildfire
Busted down his stall
In a blizzard he was lost

She ran calling Wildfire
She ran calling Wildfire
She ran calling Wildfire

By the dark of the moon I planted
But there came an early snow
There’s been a hoot owl howlin’ by my window now
For six nights in a row
She’s coming for me I know
And on Wildfire — we’re both gonna go

We’ll be riding Wildfire
She ran calling Wildfire
She ran calling Wildfire

On Wildfire we’re going to ride
We’re gonna leave sod bustin’ behind
Get these hard times right on out of our minds
Riding Wildfire

The song is open-ended enough that it could be interpreted in different ways. 

The song starts out by explaining a legend. A woman (or is she a spirit woman?) dies trying to eek out a living on the desolate Nebraska Plains. The song says that she come down from “Yellow Mountain” however there is no Yellow Mountain in Nebraska. Perhaps “Yellow Mountain” is derived from the Indian name for a mountain where gold was once thought to be found. Perhaps she gave up prospecting to settle on the plains. The woman dies, and her horse who loved her so much cannot stand living alone anymore. The pony “busts down his stall” and runs out into a blizzard – perhaps no longer caring about his own life. Without her, any life thereafter would be too painful.

A question remains: How could SHE go running calling out “Wildfire”? She was already dead. Was she calling to the ghost horse to join her? … or was she sad that the pony gave up his own life?

The story shifts to the protagonist a man currently struggling to make a living in the western Nebraska plains.

Now, I do not want to insult any potential readers in Lincoln or Omaha, however I must say that western Nebraska in winter is a desolate place. Early pioneers called that part of the Plains “The Great American Desert” as it was so hard to farm. (I will digress: If you have ever seen the Clint Eastwood movie “Unforgiven” — the Gene Hackman character says at one point: “Dead? No, but even I thought I was dead once, but it turned out I was just in Nebraska.” Indeed it is a harsh environment.)

I like that part about “by the dark of the moon I planted” as in the 1800s there were farming rules about planting according to the phases of the moon. It was superstitious perhaps, or had to do with the ancient trial-and-error wisdom of the aboriginal inhabitants of the Plains.

western Nebraska 1910

Farming peoples would plant, fertilize, harvest – even pick the right time to castrate a horse – all according to the appropriate moon phase. (I am not making that up or trying to be funny.)

The lyric “there came an early snow” means that his crop is killed again and again.

That part about  “There’s been a hoot-owl howling by my window now” is significant. You young otaku may not know that an owl outside your bedroom window is a bad omen in western and hill-people culture. He know that his death is eminent. He knows that the woman will come for him (is the ghost woman someone important to him?… perhaps an ancestor?)

During the Letterman performance, Mr. Murphey’s voice breaks at the “we’re both gonna go” lyric. It is a great emotional moment. If you listen I hope it takes you there.

He will starve too, as he has perhaps given up on life – however this is arguably not such a bad thing. He will die, but he knows that he will join the spirit of the woman and ride Wildfire. He will “leave sod-busting behind.” No more demeaning and futile dirt farming. No more struggling with the harsh realities of this existence. They will be together in the afterlife: “Get these hard times right on out of our minds” …

We tell ourselves when a loved one dies: “They are in a better place”.

I hope that you young otakus never have to have the experience of witnessing a loved one pass away over a long, grueling, painful illness. At some point, there is no coming back, and death is the release. I hope you enjoying these touching and mystical elements in song.

Starlight: 40 lightyears ago –  I was a jackass. Don’t point the telescope there.

ponyta card part

Instead, name your Ponyta “Wildfire” … and please visit Mr. Murphey-san’s website linked here.

Image

Pokémon Nicknames: Sableye

PHIL_LYNOTT's sable eyes

Sableye ( in Japanese: ヤミラミ  “Yamirami”) is a Dark and Ghost Pokémon. Sableye does not evolve from any other form, nor does it evolve except that it can temporarily mega-evolve into Mega Sableye using the Sablenite stone.

Sableye is a cave troll or gremlin that has jewels for eyes. I always thought that this Pokémon looked like an evil version of a leprechaun. The Japanese name “Yamirami” is already a pretty good name, but I named my male Sableye “Black Irish”. I used the special “clubs” symbol with the name, because that would be the closest you can get to a Shamrock.

irish sable

I think that this kickname makes Sableye a little more lovable. He is dark purple, not black, but sometimes black is so black that it becomes blue, you know. (think Superman’s hair).

When I think of Black Irishmen, I am reminded of the late, great Phil Lynott of the Dublin, Ireland group Thin Lizzy. Phil was a mixed race Black Irishman.

phil black irish

The band was also a good example of “mixed” background as well. Members were from both sides of the Irish border, and included both Catholic and Protestant Irish.

That the band formed at all was notable during “the Troubles”.

From Wikipedia:  “Irish critic John Dougan wrote that the band’s creative force, Lynott was a more insightful and intelligent writer than many of his ilk, preferring slice-of-life working-class dramas of love and hate influenced by Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen, and virtually all of the Irish literary tradition. Jeff Beck and Jimi Hendrix were major influences during the early days of the band.”

sableye_gijinka_by_smoochum302-d3kjzsa

“Remember that chick that used to dance a lot? Every night she would be on the floor shakin what she got. Man, I tell you she was cool … she was red-hot … I mean she was steamin’! … and that time over at Johnny’s place, this chick got up and she slapped Johnny’s face! Man, we just fell about the place …”

rd___mega_sableye____by_tamarinfrog-d7m2eez

“Friday night they’ll be dressed to kill … down at Dino’s Bar-and-Grill. The drink will flow and the blood will spill, and if the boys want to fight you better let ‘em!”

sableye_hoodie_by_mermade4u-d5p8sn2

“Spread the word around … get your knickers … down …”

Another possible track may be “Saber-Eye“. I have seen then named “Noir” after the phrase “film noir”. “Dark Troll“, or “Darth Troll” may be used. Sableye does not look very feminine, but I think a good name for females is “Jean Genie” after the David Bowie song

Of course “Jules” sounds like “jewels”. It may be an obscure reference, but how about “Jewels and Gym” after Truffaut’s famous French “new wave” film “Jules et Jim“.

FamilyJewels” will fit, if you are playful.  Always protect the Family Jewels. You could just name it after a jewel such as one user did: “Amethyst

 What is your nickname? Please comment!

“To the Devil, drink a toast…”

pirate_flag_wallpaper

Yes, it was also difficult for me to get past that lyric …

Hopefully, I can find redemption by the end of my post. This week I would like to share some swashbuckling excitement from another chapter of “Denny-Lived-Through-It-Music-History!”

Emerson Lake and Palmer were one of the greatest “Progressive Rock” groups of the 1970s.  The song “Pirates” has always been one of my favorites.  The track is from their album “Works Vol.1”. This critically-acclaimed record was actually a significant departure from their previous hard rock/synthesizer work.  They used a full orchestra for some songs, and much of the double-album had a “classical music” sound and feel to it.

I think that the song holds up well.  In fact, the music is often “pirated” in many TV shows and movie soundtracks.  “HEY! – that music is from Pirates”  … It never surprises me to hear excerpts from it. I hope that Keith Emerson, Greg Lake, Carl Palmer and Peter Sinfield receive royalties.

Who’ll make his mark / The captain cried
To the devil drink a toast / We’ll glut the hold
With cups of gold / And we’ll feed the sea with ghosts
I see your hunger for a fortune / Could be better
Served beneath my flag / If you’ve the stomach
For a broadside / Come aboard my pretty boys …

The brilliant lyrics are by Peter Sinfield, British poet, and occasional songwriting partner with Greg Lake. These full lyrics (linked here in a new window) are good at describing what pirates were actually like in history.

Six days off the Cuban coast, / When a sail ahead they spied
“A galleon of the treasure fleet” / The mizzen lookout cried
Closer to the wind my boys / The mad eyed captain roared,
For every man that’s alive tonight / Will be hauling gold aboard …

“Spare us” the galleon begged / But mercy’s face had fled
Blood ran from the screaming souls / The cutlass harvested
Driven to the quarter deck / The last survivor fell
She’s ours my boys / The captain grinned
And no one left to tell …

So brilliant. Such imagery and colorful language! You can really feel the sea air, the tense fighting, the heaving ship, the merciless killing

The captain rose from a silk divan / With a pistol in his fist
And shot the lock from an iron box / And a blood red ruby kissed
I give you jewelry of turquoise / A crucifix of solid gold
One hundred thousand silver pieces / It is just as I foretold
You, you see there before you / Everything you’ve ever dreamed

If you only know what you see in Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” you might think that pirates were harmless flakes or fruits (e.g. Johnny Depp).  Of course real pirates drunk toasts to the Devil … they were leaving their Christian life behind.

Anchored in an indigo moonlit bay / Gold eyed ’round fires
The sea thieves lay / Morning, white shells
And a pipe of clay / As the wind filled their footprints
They were far, far away …

The first video features famous scenes from pirate movies, and mixed in with live performances of ELP during the “Works Volume #1” tour. The one below plays and shows only the lyrics.  Such great DRIVING music!

I always thought that this song was great music for a road trip and  highway driving! … but you are not driving right now, are you, my pretty boys? I can remember seeing ELP live on the Works tour during the summer of 1977. Oh it was a great experience. The legal drinking age in my state was 18 back then, so there was plenty of rum (actually 3.2 beer) on the trip. My friend had a black 1976 Oldsmobile Cutlass (Like the pirate sword, get it?). He tied a black pirate flag to the antenna so it snapped in the breeze (“closer to the wind my boys” ) as we drove westward on USA 80.

oldscutlasssupreme1976black

I was very much looking forward to seeing ELP perform their great new album live with a full orchestra … however the group ran out of money to pay the orchestra just two dates prior to the show I saw. They had to drop the orchestra and performed as a three piece again.

I like how the music video had scenes from the orchestral performances. Darn it.  It was still a great show. We had tickets right on the floor of the arena, only a few rows back from the stage. I was surrounded by drunkards, thieves, thugs and assorted scoundrels – but I didn’t care – and you would have thought that I was a bit of a scoundrel back then anyway.

elp live 1977 dvd

It was one of the best rock concerts I ever attended.  ELP was still at their peak in those days, and the group played all their great AOR favorites.  It was an evening of great adventure. “Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash” indeed.

However, If you would like to see a good pirate movie without any of all that, and with a more Christian theme, then I suggest:

You may like these "Pirate Fruits" (no not Johnny Depp)

You may like these “Pirate Fruits” (no not Johnny Depp)

ELP received mixed reviews from the serious music critics. Some liked them because the group incorporated classical music elements. ELP recorded Aaron Copeland’s “Hoedown” and “Fanfare for the Common Man” as well as Mussorgsky’s “Great Gates of Kiev” and “Pictures at an Exhibition”, amongst others.

The group is mainly known for their one AM radio hit “Lucky Man”. Some critics panned them because they were so bombastic! So pompous — so full of sound and fury — but YOU COULD NOT DANCE TO IT! The group could switch from gentle Greg Lake love songs – “Still You Turn Me On”, etc, to Kieth Emerson’s long piano concertos, to synthesized percussion noise masquerading as classical music (Alberto Ginastera’s Concerto for Piano “Tocatta” )

Basically, whether or not you would like ELP comes down to one question: DO YOU LIKE GARGOYLES?

Whoop whoop weeeep woop woop ... bumm bumm bumm wooop weeep

Whoop whoop weeeep woop woop … bumm bumm bumm wooop weeep

No, the songs were not about gargoyles.  However, if you think that the gargoyles on gothic cathedrals are beautiful or at least interesting, then you may like ELP. I always thought that ELP were the musical equivalent of gargoyles.  Tarkus, for example.

Starlight: Has it been 38 light years?

Hanako Oku and the English Sessions

FAN FICTION! “Hanako Oku and the English Sessions”

Slide7

Ok, Miss Oku, once again don’t worry so much about the “Ps and Qs” think more about the “Ls and Rs”.

I was ecstatically happy to find out that my favorite Japanese singer-songwriter Hanako Oku is going to release a CD single with cover songs sung in ENGLISH. The mini-album is oddly titled “Rum Raisin”.

I am a huge –Oku-fan, but I do not always have English translations of her original songs sung in Japanese. I feel a little left out sometimes because I am not a Japanese-speaker. I love her songs, but find myself wishing that I could better understand the meaning. … and no one can communicate the intense emotions of unrequited love like Hanako Oku.

This must have been a tremendous amount of work for her.  She employed language experts, dialect coaches and a couple of hipster English majors from a famous American university.  I was able to link up some images from these sessions.  A few slides are presented here.

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I think that she has made excellent choices for her first mini-album of English covers here.  Each song is similar in many ways to her emotional ballads, yet this selection also allows her to explore some different – but just as intense – emotions. The songs are all from the genre that would be classified as “classic rock” and may be unknown to her younger fans.

I can’t wait until this is released.  I listened to the preview, but these songs are not yet available on YourTube. (The “Record-Industry-Weasels” as per usual).

Until then, I will share with you the original versions by the original artists until such time as the Oku covers are sold. Just imagine The Little Great One breathing life into them. The songs are: 1) “A Dream Goes On Forever” originally written performed by Todd Rundgren, 2) “The Blue, Red and Grey” written and sung by Peter Townshend (The Who), and 3) “The Town Cryer” originally by Elvis Costello. I am also including links for the original lyrics.

“A Dream Goes on Forever”

Todd Rundgren’s song pulls on the heartstrings just the way an Oku-ballad does. A lost love.  Hanging on to a dream that can never happen. Otherworldly and interdimensional hopes that it will.  Oku-san shows the “cosmic” side of herself here. There are no cheap synthesizer tricks to space you out.  The lady’s raw emotional disappointment and longing are enough to take you to the dream world.

Slide13

… you’re so far away and so long ago …

(The reference to “old soldiers fade away” is odd, however. A Japanese singer making a Douglas MacArthur reference?) However, I fell like a heap on the floor as she sang “I guess I believe that I’ll see you someday” and “how much I loved you you’ll never know til you join me within my dream”. Lyrics are linked here.

“Blue, Red and Grey”

The next one is a little lighter, and a little bouncier, but just as poignant.  The song is from a 1975 album by The Who, but it is all Pete Townsend. There is a ukulele sound on Oku’s version, but her happy-bouncy piano is the main instrument, and Oku also plays part of the interlude on her melodica. It sounds quite whimsical, especially at the end.

I am in Oku-heaven when she says “I dig every second” – instead of “like” or “love”. The 1960s expression is given new life by Oku. Oh, you are so very groovy Hanako.  I wonder if she knows what “buzz” means in the song however.  I have to think that in her mind, happy Zen-bees are buzzing about.

Slide14

Funny moment when Oku breaks her own “banana rule”.

She perhaps takes a jab at the music industry with that line “I even shun the south of France”.  Oku is not your typical rock-star celebrity.  Other artists are much more “popular” and have greater sales right now, but the lady is a very down to Earth and lovable (see her website). She is not among the stuck-up celebrity elite.  Lyrics are linked here.

“The Town Cryer”

All of that was great, but then there is the big finale. I was unprepared and shocked at how great it was.

Slide12

“They say they’ll die for love — then they leave it out”

She must have spent countless hours rehearsing not only the English words, but the vocal inflection needed to convey the emotions of the song.  I was not prepared to hear an angry Hanako Oku.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Kudos to her English voice coach.  Somehow — she nails it.

The song she has produced is like the world’s greatest waterfall.  There is great, towering piano and orchestration. That little bit of anger that is in her voice …  may be her attempts to convey Costello’s trademark snarl. It does live fans wondering what will be coming next.  Anger – even heartfelt anger – has not been part of the usual Oku repertoire to this point.  Is she stepping out of herself to show this emotion?  What is she angry about, and why does she choose to express this subtle rage in English? Is English Oku’s “minstrel” language? The one that she uses when she needs to step out of her calm Japanese “Hanako Oku” demeanor … in order to say the things she would not otherwise say?   Lyrics are linked here.

She does flip the “boys” to “girls” to be the protagonist of the song. The accusatory tone in her voice against the man actually works BETTER when sung by a woman. I think that this flip of the male/female roles improves on Costello’s original. Who knew – until Oku! Her voice starts gentle and affraid, yet hits the crescendo in bitterness.

Slide9

Oku, “in the zone” getting herself psyched for the aggressive ballad.

That part about “teddy bear tender” may be lost on her Japanese fans without the Elvis Presley reference. You can really feel that she is letting loose on a man she is disappointed with.  Go get him Hanachan, the weak bastard deserves it. Listeners may not know that the phrase “tragically hip” was coined by Elvis Costello in this song.  It is interesting to hear it in Oku’s Japanese accent, with the additional sarcastic inflection.  Amazing, amazing, amazing.

Slide15

The song is heavy on strings at the end, which is also unusual for a Hanako Oku song.  The use of “movie soundtrack” type strings at the end are like a trail … leading us to perhaps a new musical direction for The Little Great One?

Like the ice cream flavor, this “Rum Raisin” is a surprising, unique taste of intensity. 

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