Thursday, March 13, 2008

Three songs I've been thinking about of late that seem to demand some acknowledgment from me.

1) TMBG, "Lucky Ball & Chain". I always liked this one, right from the beginning. Only recently did I come to the conclusion that I probably like it the most among the other tracks on Flood. Christgau says they have more charm and wit than they let on at first, and this is a good example. I was initially not a fan of the "Confidentially..." verses, but what're you gonna do? The guys are what they are. Importantly, I'm not really distracted by them when the really powerful lines take their turn (and there are definitely a couple here).

2) John Prine, "Spanish Pipedream". No point putting any of the better known numbers from the debut, which I probably hum to myself more. This one has...quality, man. Whimsical, I suppose, but it takes some skill to take such a simple (and naturally appealing) life philosophy and turn it into something that really makes sense, rather than something naive and out of reach.

3) Nick Cave, "The Ship Song". This feels ooold, because I've heard it for so many years, but only recently have I come to truly appreciate it. And it turns out that many people place it as the highlight of The Good Son, which I can understand. Like the above song, it's simple, really, but to make it truly resonant requires a master's hand. It's easy for me to see why I once thought it slightly cheesy, but nowadays it seems dead serious to me. The imagery isn't particularly embellished because it doesn't need to be!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Ok. It's ok. She is definitely gone. I read it again, and it's so clear to me. I imagined most of it, so now there are no more excuses to be made. Perhaps at one point things could've gone differently, but I think we just met at the wrong time. Please, try to get on with it now. And if you really need to, feel free to imagine whatever you wish with those last words she spoke to you, that no one else can confirm or deny.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

There has been too much going on upstairs of late, and as it usually happens, I'm not coping with it all that well. Quite aside from the "normal" strain of university, thoughts and dreams, plucked from oh-Lord-I-don't-know-where, swirl about uncontrolled and invade far too many waking moments (I've long forsaken the night, you see). I'd like to tell it all to, um, stop, but it has been rather unsympathetic.
Why is it that these pithy introductions always end up disparaging the painfully direct writings that follow the bar? I don't know if I mean to distance myself from things that I fear are more true of me than I'd like to admit. Anyhow, no exceptions here. But I'll save the rejection of the writing, because I think it does that quite by itself.

Those fools gathered by the beaches, they'll stop you and tell you they know pain. Stuff all that; sit down by me, brother, and I'll let you know exactly what it's all about.

The continuity of experience and emotion can be devastating. I always look to art to give me some answers, but as much as I believe in its transcendence, sometimes it cannot escape its temporality. Oftentimes when I need it the most, such as now. Alas, the full force of its reality simply cannot come into its own.

So it goes once more this time. Memories, moments, laments, and lines, they all haunt me from years and years ago. It is never enough to simply best them once, because they seem all too eager to return as often as you like. One clearly needs to get to the root of the problem, but I don't quite see how to do that in this case. Without blowing up an entire universe, that is: it would take some nous for it to be otherwise!

There is little worse than making the right choice, but regretting it anyway. I won't pretend that I haven't felt like it might have been wrong at times, but as I sit here and try to keep from laughing at the ridiculousness of it all, it seems pretty clear to me what the right of the matter is. I'd love to tell the players involved of all the hurt I've felt over the years, but I made another choice too, and that one, I am afraid, was wrong. Perhaps, if I had spoken earlier, without worrying where it would have led, things might have been different.

The most harrowing of all lines from Cloudstreet are Fish's words to Rose, talking of being in that wide vibrating space, beyond all time, where lies all that is and will be. I sense this sort of detachment in myself, but don't know what exactly it means. Why does everything feel so passive? I am truly starting to feel older, and it deeply troubles me that I seem to exist in a different plane, outside of all time, like Fish. I picture all around me moving on to whatever it is lies ahead in their lives, and I sit here, the pathetic figure who looks only to past glories and those brief moments where there was the possibility of escaping this all. It all seems to be gone now. I sit alone with these memories, and the people in them forget as they live their lives. Why can't I do anything about this...

I look upon these darling moments, and think it such a shame that they should all be to waste. Would that things could be different. Yet this world of ours cannot revolve around a will, no matter how earnest the person behind it, nor the tears he may shed wishing it otherwise. I hope you do not take that for bitterness, because I would like to think it is my only display of wisdom in the entire matter.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

It wasn't entirely apparent to me at the time, but I think the trouble I had with Henry's Dream translates to a few other songwriters as well: Morrissey is the first that comes to mind. The trouble is that, sometimes, I wonder whether I've completely misunderstood their stance and statement, and if I'm just completely imagining the virtues that I claim to see in them. This is because the general reputations of songwriters like Nick Cave and Morrissey are wildly different to what I think of them.

With Cave, I really don't associate him with his Birthday Party days all that much, and neither for that matter most of his '80s solo material. Definitely not as much as I used to, at any rate. It's primarily his '90s catalogue by which I place him, and of course The Good Son by which I judge everything. But sometimes I think about it, and...The Good Son? For Nick Cave? The supposed prince of darkness, heir to Jim Morrison and all that, and I think his masterwork is bookmarked by a Brazilian hymn and "Lucy"!?! Am I crazy!?! While I've come across people who like the more strained albums, like Your Funeral, the safest bet for someone's choice of quintessential Cave is Tender Prey, I think. But while I still like the album (after all, it contains most people's choice of the quintessential Cave song), I still sense something special in The Good Son.

Similar deal with Morrissey. I hardly think of him as a depressing, maudlin songwriter, but instead as a very emotional one whose capacity for wit makes hints of sadness seem to be positive acceptance. I guess I associate him with "Cemetry Gates" say instead of "How Soon Is Now?" (wow, never thought that day would come!). In fact, I get positively uncomfortable when I sense him going too much to the other side. Part of it is probably because it makes me worried whether this is in fact the real him, and I've been imagining a different songwriter all these years.

It could just be that people are lazy to categorize songwriters, mind you, which wouldn't surprise me at all. But given how ready I am to forsake all sense of restraint when it comes to an above average songwriter, I do worry whether I've been getting it all wrong.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

I briefly flirted with virtual machines when trying to run games, as I reported earlier, but with only partially successful results. When it came to somewhat more serious issues, such as code development for Linux, though, things fared much better. In fact, my Ubuntu VM seems to work nearly flawlessly, and it does make me wonder how I lived without it. No more fiddling with annoying Cygwin quirks while trying to get things to work! And, it must be said, you get the nice GUI interface that Linux posers like me can't live without*. Yes, performance can sometimes take a noticeable hit, especially (and obviously) on already intensive software like Eclipse, but that would only be a problem were it my primary work environment. As it stands, I'm liking it, and hoping to find other nice uses for VMs.

* Let me add, though, that I grew up in a world of Red Hat 3, and even went through the ordeal of installing said OS. So don't put me down as a newbie just yet...!