Denny Sinnoh's "Akihabara Starlight"

Posts tagged ‘Indie Music’

“I somehow see what’s beautiful, in things that are ephemeral …”

I somehow see what's beautiful

I get a lot of (guff) sometimes for the music that I like. Yeah, I liked the Beatles, but then who in my generation didn’t? That might be our only common ground. I can’t say I have ever liked too much of the mainstream — and still don’t. Also, most kids today listen to rap, and as I’ve always said, I have never heard a rap song which I liked.

In the late 70s and early 80s I liked punk rock/new wave long before it became popular. I got a lot of “Get Away From Me Man” or actually “Don’t Touch Me Man” — because I liked Devo and Elvis Costello. When I told Maury down at the Deli that I like the Japanese Idol genre, he replied “Yu dah WHAT …?” with his hands gesturing out like he usually does like that … well, you would have to know Maury.

Ahem … I will try to stay positive today as I will share one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite American groups: She & Him. “I Thought I Saw Your Face Today” is from their great 2008 debut album, titled simply: Volume 1. The song is written by Zooey Deschanel. She & Him are considered an “indie” pop rock group.

Of course, Zooey-chan is mainly known as a TV and movie actress, but I also think that she is a great, but very under-rated songwriter. (Before you say “Get Away From Me Man”, read what I wrote about this subject on another post, some time back, linked here.) The song reminds me a lot of John Lennon’s “Across the Universe”. In fact, I think that Zooey writes and performs well in a retro-1960s Beatles/Beach Boys- type-style. Let us take a listen, then we will discuss it. (Scroll down for lyrics.)

While listening to the song on YourTube, I came across a number of fan cover songs. Most of these were made back when Volume 1 came out. I especially like the 3rd one down. She did a great job of putting a real music video together.

All are lovely young women, with a lot of spirit. They each bring a unique something to the song. If you ever wonder if there is anything good, and positive in this world, look at these dear hearts. There is a glimpse of the best of humanity. Young ladies — singing a personal song they love.  (Denny choking up a bit.) These are all beautiful moments captured. Like an old photograph — or better yet — like a dragonfly trapped in amber during the early Cretaceous Period, the talent, beauty, and warmth of these life affirming young women are preserved by YourTube — and are still here for us to enjoy.

… Wait a minute, it has only been eight years — perhaps it is the nostalgic echo of the song which made me drop my cup-of-time … the ladies are still here. They probably all just graduated nursing school.

Music and lyrics  – by Zooey Deschanel

I thought
I saw your face today
But I just
Turned my head away
Your face
Against the trees
But I just see
The memories
As they come
As they come
And I couldn’t help
But fall in love again
No I couldn’t help
But fall in love again

I saw it glitter
As I grew
And loved it
Boy, I never knew
I thought this place
Was heaven sent
But now
It’s just a monument
In my mind
In my mind
And I couldn’t help
But fall in love again
No I couldn’t help
But fall in love again

The cars and freeways
That implore me to stay away
Out of this place
My mother said
Just keep your head
And play it as it lays

The cars and freeways
That implore me
To stay away
Out of this place
My mother said
Just keep your head
And play it as it lays

I somehow see
What’s beautiful in things
That are ephemeral
I’m my only friend, am I?
Love is just
A piece of time
In your world
In the world

And I couldn’t help
But fall in love again
No I couldn’t help
But fall in love again
No I couldn’t help
But fall in love again
No I couldn’t help
But fall in love again
No I couldn’t help
But fall in love again

Discussion: I love the lyrics. They are simple, but straightforward and honest.  Maybe a little mystical and paradoxical. One mistake I made  — until I looked up the lyrics — was that I misheard the line “And loved it boy — I never knew”. I thought I heard: “I loved a boy I never knew” which to me — sounded all reverse-time moving/paradoxical involving. Sometimes when you fall in love with someone, you instantly “recognize” them as someone you have always known, or should have known, even if you never met them before…if that could make any sense. A good song may transcend reality. I hope you can find your own meaning in this song. Thanks, Z.D.

You can find the guitar chords out there on the InterWebs. A free example is linked here.

https://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/s/she_him/i_thought_i_saw_your_face_today_crd.htm

Starlight: She and Him “Volume 1” was released on March 18, 2008. What a great record.

This is a very shaky-poor-sounding-illegal recording from those eight years ago at a concert in New York City. Note that Zooey does her own whistling!  

In praise of Zooey-chan and M.Ward-san

Click for She & Him wallpaper for your computer.

Click for a wallpaper-size image for your computer! I left room for your icons!

Today I want to blog about one of my favorite AMERICAN bands: She & Him.  Zooey Deschanel and Matt Ward are a great pop music duo.  They are considered an “indie” group, and are popular with Hipsters.  Matt is a well known folk artist and singer-songwriter.  Zooey is more famous as an actress, but she is also a uniquely talented songwriter, singer and performer.  I will share this YouTube video (720 HD available) of a song from their great second album (simply titled “Volume 2”), a 2010 release.  The song/music video is “Don’t Look Back”.  This is fun, and it is probably one of my favorite music videos of all time.

I think that Zooey and Matt have incredible chemistry together.  Like the Beatles before them, She & Him as a group are probably greater than the sum of their parts individually.  Matt Ward has considerable success in the American folk music genre, and is well respected as a guitarist.  “M. Ward” as he is known — is popular with Portland coffee-shop hipsters.  His “Monster’s of Folk” has received critical acclaim.  Because of this, some listeners think that Matt is the songwriter, and Zooey is just a pretty actress who sings his songs.  However, it is actually ZOOEY who is the songwriter, and Matt works as producer/guitarist extraordinaire.  Their respective talents compliment each other perfectly.  The two have been collaborating since 2007.

Regarding the singer-songwriter Zooey Deschanel:  I get some funny looks from friends when I tell them that I think she is a songwriting genius!  I know, she is known primarily as an actress with a pretty face, but I love her work with She & Him.  I’m from the “baby boom” generation.   I’m an aging baby-boomer.  Finding “new” music that I can relate to can be difficult.  I like She & Him because Zooey writes new songs that sound like it is the 1960s!  Her pop songs recall the early-to-mid-mid-sixties Beach Boys, Beatles and those wonderful “girl groups” from that period, such as the Ronettes or the Supremes. This lady is a music historian, and a good one.  She has a good understanding of the genre.  She is a California girl, and some of her songs sound like southern California country-rockers like Linda Ronstadt.  She blends this retro-style with the style of  “new wave” songs circa 1980 (the year Zooey was born!).  Matt’s production is incredibly authentic.  Mr. M.Ward also has a lot of respect for music history.   He captures a “modern-meets-retro” feel.  Is it oldies, or is it hipster music?  Both!  Just great songs.  Just great execution.  They also choose the occasional cover song wisely.  (“Riding in my Car” by NRBQ is a good example.)  Finally, I can go out and buy “new” music!  Well, once in a while … “Volume 3” was released in Spring 2013.  I just wish they could make more …

It is true that they are not a prolific duo, however.  There are only three albums of original Deschanel material, plus a Christmas album, and a few on compilation records.  My only complaint with these two is that they do not produce enough music.  Zooey is 85% actress and maybe 15% musician.  If those percentages were reversed, I think that she would go down in music history as one of the all-time greats. (Dylan, Lennon, Hendrix, etc.)  I kid you not.  She just has not accumulated as much material as those legends yet.  Ms. D. is sometimes marketed in show business as some type of ditz or lightweight, when nothing could be further than the truth.   You can say that Ms. Deschanel is a good actress.  Fine.  I am not a huge fan of her movies, but many are good, and she is always good in all of them.  She is funny enough.  Notice I did not say “quirky” and never do when discussing the great Z.D.  Yes, her current TV show is cute enough, but it is not why I follow her.

The woman knows her classics (e.g. the lyric here “Orpheus melted the heart of Persephone”).   I feel that Zooey and I are in a way, “kindred spirits” … and… no really … I’m serious.  I know — how could I relate to one of Hollywood’s most beautiful women? … when Denny is such a nerdy slob?  Well, I meant that we have SIMILAR TASTES IN AMERICAN POP MUSIC.  Otherwise, we would never be mistaken for each other at Hollywood restaurants.  The Pantene commercials, the make-up ads and all that — I have no idea about, it is true.  I will not be out partying with her and the girls.  When it comes to songwriting in the genre I like however, she zeros in on my DNA.

“Modern-Meets-Retro” might also be the theme of  this “Don’t Look Back” music video.  I love how the director referenced all of those “Futureworld” artifacts.  For we Baby-Boomers, these items represent the promise that never came true.  This is the future that never was.  As kids, we really thought that we would someday be flying to school on jetpacks!  It is a very cute video from start to finish.  Enjoy this, and perhaps you will navigate to more She & Him on YouTube. 

Oddly, some of Matt’s “folk purist” fans dislike Zooey.  I have to think that the reason for the hipster-hatred is is because Ms. Z is an actress.  Zooey may not be taken seriously as an artist, because she is just too pretty.  The logic is that “if she is that good looking, she must not have any substance.”  I disagree, and this is a subject I may have to blog about at another time.  Perhaps she will spend more time with her songwriting when she is done with her television show.

Click for the wallpaper-size image!

Click for the wallpaper-size image!

Behind this pretty face is the soul of a truly great pop music songwriter! 

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