The Weekly Music Carousel (name change pending) is a thing that Sugar and I are doing for fun. We come up with a theme, then throw up three songs that we feel fit the theme. There are no other rules, other than to have fun and see if we can find songs that the other hasn’t heard and actually likes. This is week two, and so far no joy. On my first try, Sugar was familiar with 2 out of the 3 I put up, and didn’t like the third. She in turn offered up three songs that I didn’t like either.
For this week’s theme, she chose acoustic music, which was one of my alternatives for the first theme. I know that the kind of artists usually associated with that genre label are the John Meyers and Jason Mrazes of the music world. Strictly though, this is music that uses no electric or electronic instruments other than amplification of non-electric gear. That would include the entire classical genre, and huge chunks of the new age and jazz genres. I’ll avoid classical, then, because I’m sure that’s not what Sugar has in mind, but I’ll be liberal in interpretation otherwise. It’s not like a lot of these artists pigeonhole into cut-and-dried musical genres, if such things actually exist.
Ragamuffin – Michael Hedges
I enjoy the work of a lot of the artists under the Windham Hill label. Michael Hedges is a guitarist discovered by label mogul Will Ackerman. His music straddles folk, country, new age and jazz, I think, but the label is irrelevant – his stuff is excellent. Hedges died tragically in a car accident at age 43. The YouTube track audio is terrible, so I’ve included the Spotify link with has significantly better audio quality.
The Other Side of the Sun – Janis Ian
Even as I’m leaving, I’ll never stop believing you are the one
Who can make me laugh and can bring me back
From beyond the other side of the sun
Janis Ian isn’t an unknown. She had one pop chart hit, “At Seventeen”, and recorded a lot of beautiful music. She also hasn’t done anything significant since 1980, the year this song was released. I love her voice and phrasing, and the clear simplicity of the instrumentation.
Meaning of Life – T-Cophony
I was introduced to this Japanese artist by a co-worker who lived in Japan. T-cophony (I don’t know his real name, and I don’t speak Japanese anyway) is a guitar virtuoso who uses all kinds of unusual techniques and equipment to create his sound. While not all his stuff is pure acoustic, the tracks that are tend to range from good to brilliant.
Honourable Mainstream Mentions
I tried to avoid all the artists that I’d consider my “favourites” as well as those that might be considered mainstream, as per instructions of Sugar. That eliminated all of the contemporary singer-songwriter types. Sadly without access to a good coffeehouse scene, the chances of happening upon a good indie artist a-la Keira Knightley in Begin Again are pretty much nil for me. So here’s some mainstream acoustic music that resides in my music library.
Y solo se me ocurre amarte – Alejandro Sanz
Tan dura la vida y tú
Tan llena de paz
Y sólo se me ocurre amarte
Llenas mi vida de luz
Llenas el cielo, la tierra y el mar
Y a mi tan solo se me ocurre amarte
Alejandro is a Latin music superstar and, I’m told, a Grade A hottie, so all he can get is honourable mention. I think I’ve broken both copies of his MTV Unplugged CD that I’ve owned.
Paper Airplane – Alison Krauss and Union Station
Our love is like a paper airplane flying in the folded wind
Riding high, dipping low
But innocence is fair game, I’m hoping I can hold it in
Our love will die, I know
Alison is a country music superstar with one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard. I love Paper Airplane. No surprise though, I’ve been following her since “When You Say Nothing At All” in the 90s.
Like A Fool and Lost Stars – Keira Knightley
We take a chance from time to time
And put our necks out on the line
And you have broken every promise that we made
And I have loved you anyway
And you have broken every single fucking rule
And I have loved you like a fool
I’ll end with these two unquestionably mainstream tracks from the Begin Again soundtrack. It’s not fair that Keira Knightley can actually sing, along with act, be funny and be beautiful all at the same time, but there you are. The movie is all about the music industry and how hard it is to make it and how unfair that whole damned thing can be. Those of us who once dreamed or still dream to make art our living are probably better off not even getting started down that path, but that ends up as an unfulfilled dream all the same. You can’t stop loving art, and language, and music. For many of us, we can only exist with a steady diet of all three. It’s like eating and breathing. But sometimes it can get so frustrating to be limited to consuming, and not creating, and perpetually searching for meaning.
Take my hand, let’s see where we wake up tomorrow.
Best laid plans; sometimes are just a one night stand.
I’ll be damned; Cupid’s demanding back his arrow.
So let’s get drunk on our tears.
And God, tell us the reason youth is wasted on the young.
It’s hunting season and this lamb is on the run.
We’re searching for meaning…
But are we all lost stars trying to light up the dark?
Thanks Sugar, that was fun.