Good Friday everyone!
This is a song by VV Brown; Shark in the Water,
Good Friday everyone!
This is a song by VV Brown; Shark in the Water,
Yesterday I found out that the band Broken Bells released a new EP on March of this year. I almost have a heart attack! I thought Broken Bells was a one time project; a musical hiccup that I wouldn’t have to hear about ever again. It seems thought that Danger Mouse and James Mercer are very happy together making music I don’t like much (The word “hate” is a strong word, so I’m trying to be polite here). My problem with Broken Bells is that James Mercer is the lead vocalist and guitarist of The Shins, one of my favorite bands. Every minute James Mercer spends with Broken Bells is a minute we won’t spend with The Shins, and that to me is a terrible mistake. I hope this is not one of those cases of lead singers leaving their band, just like when Beyonce left Destiny’s Child, Sting left The Police and Justin Timberlake Left NSYNC. ( I really don’t care about NSYNC)
As I mentioned on a previous post, I discovered The Shins when I saw the movie “Garden State” in 2004, and since then I have been a fan of the band. Their three records Oh, Inverted World (2001), Chutes Too Narrow (2003) and Wincing the Night Away (2007) are amazing. I always listen to them when I feel stress and want to listen to inspiring music. That is why it worries me that Broken Bells are still out there releasing albums.
I most say that I have made an effort to like Broken Bells, several times I have tried to listen to their music. I tried to listen to their new EP Meyrin Fields, but I just can’t go passed the first 10 seconds of any of their songs. As soon as I listen to their “Innovative” and “particular” sound I start to breathe very fast and my brain starts to tell me to stop the music right away. I know that many people like their music, that is why they are high on music charts and were nominated a for a Grammy in 2010(Best Alternative Music Album). They might be great, but to me they will never be better than The Shins.
Since I’m a little nostalgic for The Shins, here is a little tribute to this fantastic band,
When I started to write this post, I thought I was just going to write about songs that are impossible to sing. Due to some great ideas from my husband, I end up recording my self to prove my point. To my surprise, I discovered a couple of things, 1. Regardless of all those years of people like RAQUEL R. telling me that I have a terrible voice, now, I can comfortably say: I DON”T THINK MY VOICE IS THAT BAD. 2. I can sing very fast, specially in spanish and 3. There are definitely some songs that are impossible to sing.
To give you a little bit of background; I have always been a frustrated singer. It all started when I was 6 years old, when my music teacher made us audition for the school choir. She made us sing a very difficult song called “El Gallo Pinto”. After we all sang, one by one in front of the class, the teacher called out the names of the girls that made it to the choir. My name was never mentioned, in fact she gave a second chance to other girls and implied that I shouldn’t even try again. Basically there wasn’t anything she could do for me. That was my first rejections as a singer. I guess that my problem is that I love to sing, but apparently, it sounds bad. Friends and family, throughout life have reminded me that I should really keep it to myself.
Despite all the “Honesty” on how bad my voice is, I have never given up. I love singing and I will keep singing until I can’t sing anymore. I know many songs from beginning to end and I enjoy when I can sing a song without skipping any word. However, there are some songs that are particularly difficult to sing. These songs, I have classified in three different categories:
1. Songs with lyrics that never repeat: These songs don’t require great vocals, but a good memory, since there is no repetition in the lyrics. A classic example is “Hand in my Pocket” from Alanis Morissette. One hand is always on her pocket and the other one is either giving a high-five, flicking a cigarette, giving the peace sign, etc. The same happens with songs by the Cure, The National and many other great artist. I particularly enjoy the creativity in these songs,but I have a hard time singing them.
2. Song with notes that are impossible to reach: Only really good and talented artists can sing these songs. Normal human beings can not even imagine reaching those high notes. Aretha Franklin, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, PattiLaBelle, Freddy Mercury, Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder, are some of the best vocalists of all times. Their voices are unique and inscribed in our memories and souls. As I said before, to try to imitate them is impossible. However, my favorite examples of songs with really high notes are not by these famous artist. They are: “Alone” by Heart and “Little Respect” by Erasure. I really wish – with all my heart – I could sing these songs, but as you are going to hear in a couple of seconds, I can not. I said at the beginning of this post that my voice is not that bad, please keep in mind that I have never claimed to have a good voice.
3. Songs with Fast Lyrics: I love songs with fast lyrics. Here, I don’t want to focus on Rap since there isn’t a single song from that genre I can sing. Not in Spanish, not in English. When I say songs with fast lyrics, I’m mostly refering to rock, pop and alternative songs. Songs that are sang very fast and are very challenging. Songs like “It’s the end of the world” by R.E.M and “Give it Away” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. My favorite song in this category is “One Week” by Barenaked ladies. I have never been able to sing this song, even when I have the lyrics in front of me… To be honest, I have never met anybody that can sing this song completely – except for Barenaked Ladies.
To prove my point, I have made a couple of tests. I challenged myself to sing three “Impossible” songs. The first one is a song in spanish called “Legalizacion” and to my surprise, I was able to sing it! (In all cases I had the lyrics in front of me). The second test is “Little Respect” from Erasure wich I failed, it sounds really bad. The third one is “One Week” by Barenaked Ladies. Failed too, but I lasted longer than ever before….
Enjoy it …or not
These are my favorite songs, that are impossible to sing:
Spring is back! After a very long winter, you can’t help but to be grateful for the longer days, the warm and comfortable weather and more importantly, that you can put away all those heavy clothes and boots. It is priceless! You breath better, you walk straighter and you feel happier. I am a true believer that different weather conditions can affect your mood. I think this has to do with the amount of sun exposure and the fact that you enjoy being outside in contact with nature and other human beings. For a while I couldn’t decide if spring or fall were my favorite seasons, but after a couple of years living in the US I have decided that Spring is the winner. While fall is beautiful, with leaves falling on the ground in amazing orange and yellow tones, it is also a reminder that winter is coming. You don’t know how much I dislike to start putting more and more clothes on, to leave work “at night” and wake up “at night”. To me fall is a reminder that tough times are ahead. You might think I’m whining, and to be honest, I am, but when you are born in a tropical country, your DNA is not used to months of cold temperatures and darkness. Spring, is nature’s way of telling you that the misery is over, that better times are coming ahead and that once again you made it through the nasty winter! Mother nature is rewarding you for surviving all those months of cold weather.
Since my daughter’s birth, more than ever, Spring has become the season when outdoor activities begin. It is the time when you go back to the playgrounds and run into the moms you met the year before. You get to have meaningless conversations about children and then run fast to avoid any fall or fight with another kid. Mother’s world is a complex world; interacting with other moms can be challenging at times. Under that blanket of politeness and friendliness there are all sorts of characters you start to discover when you start going to the playground – It is like a microcosmos. There is the nice mom, the chatty mom, the quiet mom, the mom that can’t stop talking about how great their kids are, and the bullying mom. Let’s face it, even as grown ups, we all have to deal with bullies…
As my daughter grows, and becomes more interactive, I notice these characters more and more. The more I’m aware of them, the more I’m amazed at how different and sometimes difficult it is the interaction with other moms. When children are around, you always have to behave your best; at the end, you are a role model. However, when faced with uncomfortable situations, mothers get stuck between doing what they would normally do and doing what a “role model” would do. This is specially hard for the bullying moms, who hide behind words such as “share” to “run over” other people. For instance, the other day I was at a playground and my daughter was on the swings. A mom that came after me and was waiting for the swings to be available said to her daughter “Don’t worry, that girl will SHARE the swings with you soon”. Then she looked at me to make sure I got the message…. I got really upset! My daughter had been in the swing for less than 2 min. and that woman wanted me to give it up so she could use it right away. I guess what upset me the most was that she was forcing me to give up the swing by hiding under a nobel concept such as sharing. Off course, I didn’t SHARE the swing with her, and didn’t care if she thought I was being selfish for not leaving when she wanted. This has happened to me a couple of times. On another occasion, a mom wanted my daughter to “share” (give up) a toy she was using so her son could play with it. If my daughter is using the toy, shouldn’t the mom teach her son to be RESPECTFUL and wait for his turn?
The point I want to make is this: I know that sharing is an important concept, specially for toddlers who have a very difficult time learning how to share. At the end, most of us learn how to share, right?. However, there are situations when some parents bully other parents by using the word sharing to get what they want. I’m sorry, and if you run into me at a playground you might not like me, but I’m not going to teach my daughter to give up her stuff when someone feels like taking them from her. It might be called sharing now, but when they get older, the kids that take things from other kids will become bullies. And what do you do with a bully? you have to defend yourself. So no, I’m not teaching her to share that way, sharing should come naturally, and from the heart, not from a forced situation.
This song is by Jack Johnson, my daughter’s favorite artist.
Yesterday after I posted “I can’t remember the 90’s”, many songs from that decade started to pop in my head. One song lead to another and millions of memories of friends, places, and stages of my life came to mind. I love remembering and I specially love when the memories are weaved into the music. So here they are, my second batch of songs from the 90’s.
This one is for my friend Melissa F.
Since I started writing this block, I noticed that every time I think of the “good old days”, I always go back to the 80’s. I remember this decade as it had happened yesterday; the fashion, the music, the T.V. shows, everything is vividly inserted in my mind. What is strange about having these clear memories, is that I was only 2-years old in 1980 and 11 in 1989. Most people start building their memories at the age of 3 (on average). If I try really hard, I can remember when I was 4 years-old, but I’m certain I can not remember 1980 and 1981. Even if I was able to remember those years, you are not really aware of a decade’s music, fashion and trends until you are much older. Probably I was only aware of the 80’s culture from 1986 to 1989. So, how come I can remember it so well? And how come the 90’s are only composed of vague images that pop in my head once in a while? From age 11 to 21, technically my golden years, I can’t seem to remember much. After thinking about it, I came up with a couple of theories, actually 2 theories, about the mental tricks my mind is playing with me.
1. A lot of the culture of the 80’s extended into the 90’s. Many important bands like Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Poison, etc. from the 80’s were still big in the early 90’s. The same goes for the fashion, and TV shows. In general, there is not a clean break between the 80’s and the 90’s; much of what we catalogue as 80’s continued to exist in the early 90’s. I guess, what I’m trying to say is that when you think of big hair, colorful make up and tight pants – mostly on guys, you think of the 80’s, but technically many of these images are also from the early 90’s.
2. In my mind, the 90’s didn’t happened that long ago, I have a hard time telling myself that this decade ended 11 years ago. Maybe it is because since then, life has speed up and it feels like, every thing has happened really fast. What ever the reasons are, in my mind, there is nothing distinctive about the 90’s that would let me separate it from the 00’s and it all blends together in a category I like to call “recent past”. However, I must accept that it has been a while since the 90’s and that there are special memories that should be pulled apart and filed in their own folders. Basically, I need to separate the 90’s from the “recent past”, archive my memories and let it go.
In order to do this, first I have to find out what exactly happened during those years. I did some research and found my favorite TV shows, movies and songs from the 90’s. I think this will help me identify the 90’s with its distinctive memories and at the same time pay tribute, to a fantastic decade!
So here we go:
Seinfeld – This is the best show ever! No other show makes me laugh like Seinfeld
Alley McBeal -“My first, my last, my everything”
Dawson’s Creek – Poor Dawson, he started to lose his hair and at the end, nobody wanted to date him.
Felicity – I Loved this show!
The X Files – Did Mulder and Scully ever got together? I have to admit that these was a very long show and at the end I lost interest.
Beverly Hills 90210 – Classic
Friends – Central Perk
Fraiser – I always thought that Niles – Fraiser’s brother was hilarious
Melrose Place – Classic
3rd Rock from the Sun
Shindler’s List 1993 – I still remember the scene where everything is black and white except for the girl on the red coat
The Usual Suspects 1995 – After this movie I became a big fan of Kevin Spacey
The Sixth Sense 1999 – “I see dead people”
Se7en 1995 – Brad Pitt! – I still remember the guy that die from gluttony – Nasty!
L.A Confidential 1997 – Kevin Spacey I love you!
Pulp Fiction 1994 – Best Soundtrack
The Silence of the Lamps 1991 -” Good evening, Clarice”
Forrest Gump 1994 – “Run Forrest”
Titanic 1997 – “I am the king of the world”
Jerry Macguire 1996 – “Show me the money”
So, these are my favorite songs from the 90’s. It was hard to pick only 10, but I think theses songs have been somehow “Iconic” in my life. Enjoy!
Ok. I like these ones too!
In 2009, I rediscovered one of my favorite TV shows; Sesame Street . This, off course, coincided with the birth of my daughter, and I must say that it was great to find some familiar faces among the new and unknown children’s shows that have populated the TV in recent years. Have you heard of the Wiggles? if not, you are safe, don’t even goggle them. Sesame Street or Plaza Sesamo has been on the air for more than 40 years, generations of kids have grown learning the alphabet, numbers and colors with the Cookie Monster, Big Bird, Count Von Count (my favorite), Ernie, Bert and many other muppets. Their legacy is enormous and I’m glad that Sesame Street is something my daughter and I will always have in common. Just watching the show brings happy memories from my childhood. I must say though, that the Sesame Street of today is putting too much emphasis on Elmo, (a character that didn’t exists in my younger years and who I find particularly annoying) leaving traditional and important characters such as Kermit the Frog and Grover reduced to special appearances – This makes me a little nostalgic.
Sesame Street 40th anniversary was in 2009, by then, it was the fifteenth-highest rated children’s television show in the US. Sesame Street is the most widely viewed children’s television show in the world, it counts with 20 international versions, and broadcasts in over 120 countries. A 1996 survey found that 95% of all American preschoolers had watched the show by the time they were three years old. In 2008, it was estimated that 77 million Americans had watched the series as children. As of 2009, Sesame Street has won eight Grammys and 118 Emmys—more than any other children’s show. 1
Only recently I noticed how influential Sesame Street has been to generations of kids around the world. Many famous actors, musicians and celebrities have been guest of the show, these include: Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Michelle Obama, Kobe Bryant among many others. I guess you are not a celebrity until you appear on Sesame Street. Anyway, I have been looking though videos and found pretty amazing performances. I specially enjoyed how great songs were adapted into educational and fun song for children.
Famous Tito Puente, El Rey del Timbal!
This is a bonus video, while searching for music for this post, I found a spoof titled “Law and Order; Special Letters Units” It is hilarious!