Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Silent Lucidity (Queensrÿche)

If you enjoy this song, please be respectful of its creators by buying it.

Considering the combination of unrelenting stresses in my life, and the fact I’ve had an anger mismanagement problem since time immemorial, I often cleave to music that I perceive as having a calming effect. ‘Silent Lucidity’ is a song that for me, takes the tone of a comforting lesson from someone of great learning and experience. Although it continually skirts the perimeter of being patronising, it never quite crosses the threshold.

I do wish it was possible to remove the four-sentence crash course in ‘dream control’ without damaging anything else in the song. This ghastly interlude notwithstanding, the overall subject matter is admirably ambitious for a 1990 release. This is not the place to set forth my own views about active dreaming, but suffice it to say, I warm to the fact Queensrÿche wrote a very successful song about an esoteric discipline that is close to my heart.

Aside from the sentiments expressed therein, the lyrics themselves are composed with considerable skill. I always think highly of poetry in songwriting, even if it’s not an issue that can ruin a composition for me if other qualities are strong enough to carry the piece as a whole. Favourite moments include “Living twice at once, you learn”, “A round-trip journey in your head”, and “A doorway that I run through in the night”; extra points are also earned for painstaking attention to the complex rhyme patterns and meter.

The expansive orchestration is also very forward-thinking for its time, and serves to greatly enrich 'Silent Lucidity'. Although listening to a song -- no matter how exquisite -- is no substitute for the Land of Dreams itself, this represents a lovely window into it. Even if that window is open for just shy of six minutes at a time.

Check it out on YouTube

Monday, 10 September 2012

Seven Wonders (Fleetwood Mac)

The music of Fleetwood Mac has always been close to my heart for several reasons. One of them is the uniquely feminine yet feisty perspective pwned by Stevie Nicks (as well as Christine McVie and Sandy Stewart), which makes a refreshing break from stereotypes both in its time and today.

For me, the core of ‘Seven Wonders’ is the simplicity and sincerity of the speaker’s reflection on the person who moved her so. It was just the touch of her beloved’s hand -- “all the way down to [the misheard] Emmaline” -- that filled her heart with such beauty that not even the Seven Wonders of the world could exceed it. I don’t think Sandy Stewart, who wrote most of the lyrics so passionately delivered by Stevie, was conscious of the paradoxical implications of living to see wonders that had, in six out of seven cases, returned to dust long ago.

Or perhaps I am being obtuse, and that was the exact point being made; honestly, I have not researched the rumours (~_^) about this composition conscientiously enough to make a truly informed decision. Suffice it to say, I love the fact that the speaker makes a point about her loved one’s “intensity”, and relishes such a simple pleasure: the touch of that person’s hand. There is not even so much as a kiss involved! It is something more subtle and meaningful, in context.

I also warm to the serenity of “if our paths never cross”. Although she does “hope and pray” that “it might work out someday”, the speaker has already gained so much from the encounter that she is at peace with the idea that she may never “live to match the beauty again”. What a heroic perspective to take, instead of lamenting the possibility that she may never again meet this person who has made such an impression on her!

I have, myself, experienced similar epiphanies based on the most meagre contact with people who have had such electricity that they have changed my very essence. So I suppose it is inevitable that this song carries the signature of a kindred soul -- a signature executed in the most gorgeously fluid musical calligraphy.

Check it out on YouTube

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Crazy (Icehouse)

If you enjoy this song, please be respectful of its creators by buying it.

Icehouse is an Australian band who enjoyed their greatest commercial successes through the 80s. I have admired their effortlessly sophisticated compositions, and thoughtful and imaginative yet understated lyrics, since my early childhood. The juxtaposition of the speaker’s “pocket full of holes” against his love interest’s “ribbon of rainbows” is picturesque and evocative, even if the imagery becomes diluted by the second verse. This particular song also showcases Iva Davies’ considerable vocal prowess.

It is a very special feeling, to remember I was privileged to enjoy ‘Crazy’ -- and other songs of its era -- at the very time they were first released. Icehouse has cemented its iconic status in Australian rock history, and for good reason: when I revisit compositions like this one from the perspective of having much greater experience in music, I am afforded a new appreciation of what talent and skill went into their creation.

I do not believe music was ‘better in my day
. Just as there is no shortage of atrocious classical compositions, there are many contemporary artists whose work features the same genuine talent and adroit musicianship as this song. Only time will tell if they too leave a legacy that future generations may find breathtaking.

Check it out on YouTube