Just Because Music: Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass”

One of my favorite boyfriends from days of yore won huge points when he told me that he and a friend practically had a fist fight over who would get to ask me out after they saw how I filled out the back of my dress at a wedding.  I was Pippa before there was a Pippa.  So I like this song:

Boogie-Woogie that’ll knock your socks off

In St. Pancras International Train Station in London, Henri Herbert sat down at an open piano. After a few flourishes, somewhat like a speaker first clearing his throat, Herbert went to work — and what he did will knock your socks off. Passers-by at St. Pancras seemed blasé about it, but Herbert is getting the attention he deserves thanks to the internet:

Just Because Music: Oh Honey’s “Be Okay”

You all know that I’m a big believer in counting my blessings (what others call “expressing gratitude”). I don’t think one can be truly happy without doing this on a regular basis. I understand that there are some circumstances in which there are no blessings to count (such as being a Boko Haram prisoner), but most of us have something good in our lives. So, while this Oh Honey song isn’t great musically, I really like the sentiment it expresses:

Incidentally, this is the group’s break-out song. It hit the big time because one of the performers on Glee sang it on that show.

Just Because Music: Shir Soul’s Bashana Haba’ah

There’ll be peace in the Middle East when the Palestinian’s stop singing about “Death to the Jews” and glorious martyrdom, and start singing this lovely Israeli song. The nice rhyming translation I was taught went like this:

In a year from today, We’ll sit on our verandah
And we’ll count all the birds in the sky.

Boys and girls, playing catch, in the meadow over yonder,
While the long summer days drift on by.

Wait and see, wait and see, just how good it will be,
In a year, just one year, from today.

Wait and see, wait and see, just how good it will be,
In a year, just one year, from today.

There are more sophisticated and complete (but less rhyming) translations available, e.g., this one.

Just Because Music: Plain White T’s “Giving Tree”

Because I’m a procrastinator, I waited until the very last minute to work on a newsletter submission for my local Republican Women’s Federated chapter. Then, once I’d written it, I learned that the word number parameters had changed — 350 words instead of 600. You’ll probably be surprised to learn, considering how verbose I am, that I’m very, very good at cutting articles down to size. Still, it took a little while.

While I get my head back in the game, can I introduce you to the Plain White T’s The Giving Tree? It’s a strange video, but an awfully nice song:

As Madison Rising proves, when it comes to performance, good attitude is everything

Madison RisingI’ve been a fan of Madison Rising, a patriotic rock band, for a long time.  I don’t necessarily like all their music, because they’re pretty heavy on classic rock guitar playing, but I really like their attitude.  The band takes its solid rock chops and applies it to patriotism.  Unlike most musical groups that pretty much reflexively “harsh on” American because it’s what all the cool kids are doing, this band uses its hard rock chops to celebrate America and her many virtues.

As it happens, I love Madison Rising’s rock guitar version of the Star Spangled Banner.  This is quite an admission for me, because I tend to like my songs performed straight, without howls and yowls.  If you were going to predict my musical tastes, you’d usually guess right if you said I would prefer Bing Crosby singing our anthem over some tortured rock band version.  Nevertheless, I’ll repeat:  I love the Madison Rising Star Spangled Banner.

If you’re wondering why I’ve step out of my musical comfort zone with this one, here’s the answer:  Madison Rising’s rendition is a fresh take on our nation’s anthem, performed with enormous energy, and a great deal of love.  This is not a robotic repeat of an old song:

When I listen to Madison Rising’s version of the Star Spangled Banner, I’m reminded of Runrig’s version of Loch Lomond, Scotland’s unofficial anthem. As does Madison Rising, Runrig rocks up a traditional song (indeed, one written around the same time as the Star Spangled Banner), but the group does it with love and passion. Scottish fans are enthusiastic about the group’s version:

My point about both of these groups is that their unorthodox renditions of old favorites are done with reverence and respect.  They are intended to build up, not to tear down.  Contrast that with Roseanne Barr’s justifiably infamous rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, which saw her adding crotch-clutching to melody-mangling.  Likewise, a lot of non-homophobic patriots took umbrage when Lady Gaga turned the Star Spangled Banner into a gay-themed anthem.  It was disrespectful, not because she brought her own spirit and style to the song, but because she was quite obviously denigrating the song and America as they currently exist.

I’m waffling on along these lines because at NASCAR’s opening this past weekend, both fans and racers disliked Madison Rising’s version of the Star Spangled Banner, considering its rock energy “disgraceful” and “disrespectful.” I wish I could reach out to the NASCAR crowd and let them know that there’s nothing insulting or disrespectful about Madison Rising. Whether or not you like their version, they sing it as respectful homage to a nation they love. If they can help resurrect some basic patriotism into disaffected young people who read Howard Zinn and like heavy metal and hard rock, more power to them.