It's time for Songs of the Week to come to an end, as with all good things. We've had a good run, with plenty of regular contributors, a few of which have been interviewed and showcased. Now it's time to throw in the towel and close up shop. That doesn't mean anyone should stop discovering music, nor does anyone have an excuse to. There are plenty of other methods of music discovery, such as Bandcamp, Last.fm, or even checking out what other people are listening to on Spotify or Pandora. Lately, I've also been checking out NPR Music, and found a few artists through the Tiny Desk concert series. It's strange having to resist the urge to tell you to submit songs, but I will never again be in charge of putting together this magnificent beast of an article. Thank you to those who contributed, and to those who never did, you missed out on an opportunity to have your voice heard. It's been great sharing music with my readers, and I think I speak for many other frequent contributors when I say I am thankful for your viewership. Enjoy your last round of songs, this time the favorites of anyone who wanted to share. It's been fun.
I already submitted my favorites, but these just barely didn't make the cut.
Coil - Going Up
Going Up can't really be talked about without first discussing the circumstances surrounding it and the album, The Ape of Naples. Coil was a two-person experimental electronic band that was a pioneer of industrial and experimental electronic music and was very inventive, spanning tons of genres and leaving a mark wherever they went. John Balance, half of Coil, died in 2004 by falling off his balcony; the Ape of Naples is a sort of tribute to his life by Peter Cristopherson, the other half of Coil, previously of Psychic TV.
The album was assembled from clips of past work with Balance and released a few months after Balance's death, after which Cristopherson formally ended the band. As such, the whole album has a very dark, depressive, and morbid tone - the first song, Fire of the Mind, even opens with, "Does Death come alone / or with eager reinforcements?" Going Up is the final song on The Ape of Naples, functioning as a very nice and appropriate closure to the album and to Coil as a whole. Cristopherson died in his sleep about 6 years later, bringing an end to the Coil era.
Going Up is a cover of the theme song of Are You Being Served (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTCUuTGNEnI), a song that utilizes a cash register as the primary percussion in a manner a bit similar to Pink Floyd's Money. Calling it a cover, though, doesn't seem to do it justice; Coil's version takes on an entirely different persona and is half unrecognizable as a cover of the aforementioned theme song, swapping liveliness and chaos for a solemn and sacred mood. In fact, the entire message of the song, too, is flipped; no longer is the song about ascending the floors of a store; in Coil's version, it is implied that it is, instead, about ascending in a spiritual sense, to a new plane of existence. It's as if the song is an entirely different entity.
The song is largely dominated by a marimba, strings, very bassy drums, and the opera-like singing of guest musician Francois Testory. The song does have a few clips of Balance speaking, too - the first words spoken in the song are Balance asking, "Are you ready to go now?" The song closes with John Balance repeating the phrase, "it just is," signifying an overall helplessness and acceptance concerning the shortness of life or whatever it throws at you, which are, according to Wikipedia, "Balance's last ever words spoken on stage live." A recording of the moment is available on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wO9ZLxwUrgs).
I'd also like to dedicate this submission to an old pine tree that I've known for over half of my life. It's been on a slow and painful decline for a very long time, and it finally got cut down today.
Radiohead - No Surprises
I hold this song pretty dear because this is the song that really opened my ears to music. My mom was watching House, and this song closed the episode. It was a real attention grabber - up to that point, I had just been listening to normal radio music and classic rock that my mom would play all the time; I hadn't really branched out to different types of music yet. The very next day I went and got a copy of OK Computer, and it blew my mind - especially Paranoid Android - and from that point on, I started discovering new music on a pretty consistent basis and stopped relying on music being fed to me. That's not to say that it's bad to have music be fed to you; I just wasn't a fan of it.
No Surprises, like Going Up, is a bit of a downer, this time concerning living a life you don't enjoy in a job you hate - "A heart that's full up like a landfill / A job that slowly kills you" - rather than being a tribute to a close friend. Like the rest of OK Computer, No Surprises is a critique of modern, urbanized life and the toll it takes on the human experience through means of wage slavery, over-stimulation, pollution - "A handshake of carbon monoxide" - and collective isolation. It takes a toll on people by forcing them to work in bad jobs for bad salary at the expense of the rich, also touched upon two songs earlier in Electioneering.
Instead of being an aggressive or firm reaction to this new reality, though, like in punk music and in other songs on OK Computer, No Surprises is a resignation to it, pleading to at least make it predictable if nothing else. This is reflected in the song's instrumentation, which is a lot more mellow than that of all the other songs on the album.
It's not my favorite Radiohead song (Reckoner takes that spot) but it's definitely a close second.
Digital Underground - Humpty Dance
This is my favorite song because it is not only a great beat to jam to, it is also comedic gold. After listening to this song, you will be doing the hump all around town. The song teaches you how to do the hump, so everyone can join in the fun!
Brandi Carlile - The Story I like it because, like the title suggests, the song tells a story.
Saturn - Sleeping At Last
This song really fits the whole saying goodbye theme and is one of my favorites, just for what it means to me and how pretty it sounds. There isn't much to be said about it because the song speaks for itself.
My Chemical Romance - Welcome to the Black Parade
This is probably one of my favorite songs from my favorite band. If I didn’t pick this song, it would have been “I’m Not Okay (I Promise),” but there’s just something about the Black Parade. The piano intro is so ingrained in my head that whenever I hear it, I end up singing along (or just mouthing the lyrics). The song builds itself up into your usual emo/pop-punk My Chemical Romance, which wasn’t really something MCR did until The Black Parade. It almost eases you into the song with the building-up introduction, then it just hits you with the song you expected. Also, the marching band drums at the end are the reason why I don’t listen to the radio edit.
If someone asked me to give them an emo song, this is the song I’d give them. Is it the most emo song My Chemical Romance (or anyone really) has made? No. Is it a damn good song? Yes.
Panic! at the Disco - When the Day Met the Night
Definitely a very different song from my first choice, and it’s a very different song compared to the rest of Panic’s songs. It’s an under-appreciated song from an already under-appreciated album (Pretty. Odd.), but it’s one of my favorite Panic! Songs. I don’t really know why it stuck out for me. It’s in the middle of the album, and it follows a more well-known single. Maybe it the lyrics, the upbeat feel of it, and perfect timing. It’s a song that lifts you up and reminds you of the good times in summer. I think I listened to it at just the right time, and it stuck with me.
This is the kind of song that’s perfect at any time. If you’re down, it’ll bring you back up, or if you’re already high on life, it’ll keep you there.
Foo Fighters - Everlong
Okay, so I know what you're all thinking, "what a surprise Dylan submitted a Foo Fighters song," and you're right, but there is more to it than that. Everlong is the type of song that makes bad days good, and good days better. It's the type of song you listen to when your dog dies and it makes everything okay. Every time I listen to or play this song, is a moment of clarity. Like for four minutes and ten seconds everything makes complete sense. We can talk about intervallic distances, and the interactions between the melody and the backing harmonic progression, but that's not what this songs about. It's about a feeling. I don't like this song, I love this song and I hope that some people reading this can come to love it as well.
Seether - Fade Away This is a very relatable chart which can be applied to many situations
Imagine Dragons - It's Time This is a song about never changing who you are even if you are better than what you were before. It also states that you don't want to forget your roots.
Titus Andronicus - The Battle of Hampton Roads
This song, my discovery of which is courtesy of our own Edgar Castro, was my first real foray into punk rock. The Battle of Hampton Roads, along with the rest of Titus Andronicus' discography, turned me on to an entire genre of music that I had previously thought was nothing more than aggressive and loud.
The band tells the story of humankind and the terrible state it is in, plagued by constant insecurity, infighting, and doubt. The song at one point specifically targets a specific group of males, the stereotypical "frat boy," and uses this as a segway into a verse on the use of insecurities to breed more insecurity, through rape and hate and the constant quest of each individual member of our species for approval.
The following verse is line after line of self-deprecating vinegar. Stickles absolutely rips himself apart for a solid twenty lines of the song, contributing to the notion that humans are their own worst enemy.
But that can't be true! No, there must be an external enemy driving us! The last verse ushers in the idea that we as individuals can only continue to fight when we fight something other than ourselves. His "enemy" is the single most important thing in his life, that which keeps him going. "My enemy, / it's your name on my lips / as I go to sleep." Stickles directly addresses "the enemy," and asks it "please don't ever leave," praying that there will always be something to fight. He shows the true value of fighting and anger, right there and then lending credence to +@'s anger and fighting spirit, and perhaps validating all of punk rock as a legitimate and meaningful art form. The triumphant soloing and bagpipes that ensue bring the song roaring to an epic finale at the 14:02 mark, instilling in the listener an unconquerable will to continue the fight.
Band of Skulls - Close to Nowhere
I've written about this song before, in the twelfth article, but I feel as though I have more to say about it and what I previously said was not what I want the last word on this song to be.
A few weeks ago in my Italian class, I received a small slip of paper with two words written on it: "Stay moist." At this point, I felt the need to return a note with a rebuttal on it. So, of course, I changed "Stay moist" to "Stay almost." At the time, it was just my way of changing what the note said, but as I though about it, I realized that "stay almost" is a quote that I can embrace and take pride in. It's not just some dumb thing I wrote on a tiny piece of paper. "Stay almost" can be looked at as words to live by.
That's what this song is about. Staying almost. Always reaching for the unattainable. Striving for that which can never be achieved. If someone's lifelong goal is achievable, what then? Once you get there, you're done. You stagnate. Along with this there's an underlying theme sort of similar to Portishead's Roads. That it's not always easy to find purpose in life, but that doesn't mean it's impossible to keep moving. The song addresses a few different ways in which life is tough and then is capped with the will to keep moving despite this. People will discourage you, your purpose might be hard to find, and you might have nothing but arbitrary, attainable goals, but through all that, you keep going anyway. It's what we do. Persevere.
Led Zeppelin - Stairway to Heaven
On top of this song being one of the most well known songs of its time, this song is special to me because my Dad would play it to me all the time on guitar and it was my favorite song he could play. I didn't really have the capability to enjoy this song until years later but as anyone knows this song lies up with Bohemian Rhapsody as one of the greatest rock anthems of all time. The depth of this song is something I do not think I am capable of touching. For me, this is one of the greatest songs ever made. The song breaks in a way that makes it seem like there are multiple different songs within this one track. Kids with Classic Rock Dads will fondly recall air guitar and pretend drum solos that only a family could love. This song for me is most special because of the memories, not even the epic quintessential rock n' roll the song presents.
Tenacious D - Tribute
Dave Grohl as a Devil, in the music video for the tribute to the greatest song ever made? No, this isn't the best song in the world per say, but instead a tribute to what that may be. For me, media is impossible to rank, even my opinions change on a almost weekly basis. The "best" of anything can not be made, as something can always be better, or someone can rank one thing above another. That is where the greatness of this track lies, in the fact that it plays with this idea, knowing the best song cannot be made, and to instead make fun out of it.
Electric Light Orchestra - Mr. Blue Sky
I would be shocked to find someone who hasn’t heard this song. Since this submission is supposed to be my favorite songs (not spreading more obscure stuff like I normally try to) I can finally talk about this song. For the longest time this was a vague song in the back of my mind, never really knowing what it was. It’s one of my favorite songs because It’s beautiful, emotional, catchy, and is great to sing along too. I hope to end at least one movie with this song in my career.
Train - Drive By Even though they don’t seem to fit in with the rest of my music taste, I really do love Train. Drive By was one of my first songs by them and I guess you can say it got me hooked.
The cast of The Hunchback of Notre Dame Musical - Finale
I am seriously in love with this song. I know I posted it last week and I had it in my interview, but I was told I could repeat a song if I write something longer. So here it is. This song is a great finale, as it incorporates multiple songs (or just their tunes) from earlier in the musical. It's also funny listening to the choir singing Latin and noticing that I've sung the same exact Latin words I've sung in chorus. There's also so many emotions in this finale. Like there's one point where the main feeling is anger and then the music completely shifts and it becomes sad but beautiful and I cry. And they end with the tune that ends so many of the songs (even in the movie) and it's seriously so beautiful.
Kristin Chenoweth and Lea Michele - Maybe This Time
I've listened to this version of this song for a few years now, since my mother owns the CD that this song is on. And then I sang it in the talent show this year and I am in love with the musical it's actually from, Cabaret (I want to see it so badly). I've heard this version and the Emma Stone version from when she was on Broadway. This one is more excited for love hopefully coming, and Emma's is more sad, like she's realizing that she's never really been loved. I still sing this song quite frequently as it's so fun to sing. I think that a lot of people can relate to it at some point in their lives, too.
And so ends the crowd-sourced portion of Songs of the Week. To finish off the year, here are a few closing remarks on some fitting songs for the situation from a few of our top contributors.
Bon Iver - Holocene /// Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues
In a way, Bon Iver's Holocene (as well as Fleet Foxes' Helplessness Blues) is a coming-of-age story, a bildungsroman, a reflection of where one is in life and how they got there. Written entirely in the past-tense, Holocene is a sort of poetic memoir by Justin Vernon detailing some recollections of events in his life, like time spent with family and significant others - "Third and Lake it burnt away, the hallway / Was where we learned to celebrate" and "Christmas night, it clutched the light, the hallow bright / Above my brother, I and tangled spines" are the more notable and intricately described ones.
Central to the song's message, however, is the line, "And at once I knew I was not magnificent," followed by very beautiful imagery of an isolated yet imposing setting meant to instill the same sense of wonder in the listener that the speaker feels, a mood helped along by the gentle, very rhythmic instrumentation provided by the other members of Bon Iver. This theme is presented in contrast to the vignettes touched upon earlier in a sort of "eureka moment" - "And at once I knew..." - to communicate how the learning of one's place in the world is intrinsically linked to maturity and knowledge accumulated through past mistakes and experiences.
The theme of the relative unimportance yet great potential and influence of the individual in the grand scheme of things and the comfort and happiness that that humbling realization can bring is a theme also shared by Fleet Foxes' Helplessness Blues, a song that takes a more forward-looking approach to the subject while also incorporating vignettes in the same manner as Holocene. The song's message is laid out in its entirety in the first two stanzas, in which Robin Pecknold sings, "I was raised up believing / I was somehow unique / like a snowflake, distinct among snowflakes / unique in each way you'd conceive. / / And now after some thinking / I'd say I'd rather be / a functioning cog in some great machinery, serving something beyond me."
In addition to this message is the idea that being stagnant in the face of uncertain circumstances should be avoided - in other words, as the wise Californian philosopher Shia LaBeouf once said, "Just do it!"; Pecknold sings "And I don't, I don't know who to believe" with a certain happiness and confidence, surrounded by happy and confident instrumentation, instead of in a more bleak manner that would be representative of the crippling analysis paralysis (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analysis_paralysis) that is very detrimental to one's achievements and can sometimes be hard to avoid.
The "mellow happy" exhibited by both Holocene and Helplessness Blues reminds me of a Game Grumps video a friend sent me a long time ago of the experience of Danny, one of the show's co-hosts, with a depressive illness. Speaking of when his psyche went back to "normal", Danny said, "There's the two different kinds of happiness, you know - there's the kid happiness, where you're just like, 'I'm happy 'cause everything's awesome! And new, and interesting!' And there's the other happy, like, the light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel happiness, where you're like, 'I had to go through some [stuff], and like, I earned this. You know?' ... the 'at peace' kind of feeling" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfTNZLssib4, 8:13). Obviously, most of us can't really relate with being dug out of such a deep ditch like Danny was, and it would be wrong to suggest that this can even compare at all, which I'm not, but, I think, in a way, the feeling of having completed primary and secondary education elicits the same sort of "mellow happy" that Danny is talking about in that video - "I did it; I made it. It's been a long, 12-year ride, and now, it's over."
As we go on to continue our lives in higher education, service, or the workforce for the next few years, we must remember to always keep that fire that teachers and fellow students of Peabody and elsewhere have lit over the past 12 years; passion and wonder are essential to the human experience - Casey Neistat, a now famous and successful YouTuber and entrepreneur who rose out of poverty after dropping out of high school and living in a trailer park on welfare, driven by a passion for videography, said it very well: "Dreams are important. Having goals, ambition - these are the things that drive life" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9p1qSL9_nnI, 5:50). And, we must never forget our roots and the influence they have had on us as we have grown together into the people that we are today and as we continue to grow and develop in the future. It's been a privilege for us to have grown up in such a relatively stable and fruitful community in such a relatively stable and fruitful country, despite what a certain, current presidential candidate may have you believe; let's not squander that privilege.
R. Kelly - The World’s Greatest This was the last song I heard at Elementary School graduation. This song never fails to cause a rush of nostalgia and inspiration whenever I hear it. Seeing how long ago that was and that I’m now graduating High School... this song really means a lot to me.
Elbow - Presuming Ed (Rest Easy)
I'm not sure if this is true of everyone, as most seniors just seem excited, but for me, the prevailing emotion towards graduating and moving on is fear. I'm terrified to be leaving the environment in which essentially my entire life has taken place. It's the natural progression, it has to happen eventually, and don't get me wrong, I'm excited as hell to start "real life" and leave this stagnant existence led by high school students. But on par with that excitement is a kind of existential dread. Where am I going? How can I avoid the wrong path? What if I'm already there? This song is a much needed reprieve from the fear and stress I'm filled with now.
The obvious story behind the song is that whoever the speaker, Guy Garvey, is addressing with his lyrics is having a baby. It can be assumed that he is speaking to a man in a traditional relationship. The lines he uses to comfort his friend, however, can be applied to a variety of stressful situations.
The song opens with a single organ chord, and stays relatively soft. In the friendliest, most down to earth tone, Garvey states "my brother, fear is only natural / you need to chill your fuckin' bones." From there, Garvey describes what he seems to consider magical about birth.
Much of the middle of the song applies very directly to pregnancy and birth, but one line in particular holds a lot of emotion: "this is why we are here." Maybe it is only intended to refer again to birth or procreation, but to me, when presented on top of such a calming bed of music in such a down to earth way, the line means so much more. We are here to do, to go forward without fear. To live. We can, and we will, lead worthwhile lives if we face them fearlessly. Because it's the small moments, like hearing the first breaths of a newborn, that make life worth living. Rather than stressing about it, live it; experience it; "drink this in."
Five for Fighting - 100 Years I like this song. It tells a story of how quickly life passes by. I think this is especially true for high school. I'm only a freshman but this year has gone by so quickly, and I can still remember when my brother was a freshman like it was yesterday. Five for fighting touches upon only a few ages in the song, as if the ages between had gone by too quickly to account for. It has a sad feel to it and I think it is very appropriate to say goodbye to the seniors and is relatable to all lower classmen. Fun fact, although they are known as five for fighting, it is a one man band.