On Sunday, I was collecting responses to the latest dispatch which asked, What is your favorite song that features a color in the title? Reading and replying to each week's responses are two of my favorite things to do. This edition was especially fun as I found myself listening to a number of songs that I hadn't heard before. One in particular stood out: Song For A Blue Guitar by Red House Painters. Mona wrote:
This song will make you fall in love with the sound of the pedal steel guitar. When I hear this song, I feel this flutter of longing and love rise up inside me.
It is indeed a beautiful song. Nearly two hours and many other songs later (there were a lot of great responses), I opened an email from David.
I’m not sure who the female vocalist is who accompanies Mark Kozalek on this track, but she is beautifully complementary to his voice.
When I realized he was also talking about Song For A Blue Guitar, I started to laugh. I was so surprised that two people in our small community chose the same, relatively obscure song from 1996. It was truly uncommon in common — people connected across distance and difference by the things they love.
My favourite song in the whole world, forever and ever, happens to be "Black" by Pearl Jam. But I suppose the purists would argue that black is not a colour, wouldn't they? So here are two others: "Yellow Ledbetter", also by Pearl Jam, and "True Blue" by the Australian artist John Williamson. The former is exceptionally beautiful, has utterly indecipherable lyrics, and is alleged to be about the death of a beloved brother. The latter, also exceptionally beautiful, was one of the favourite songs of my own beloved brother. He's been gone for a little over 5 years now, but this song never fails to make me feel as though he is right here with me.
"Red Cape" by Priscilla Ahn
"Song for a Blue Guitar" by Red House Painters. I'm not sure who the female vocalist is who accompanies Mark Kozalek on this track, but she is beautifully complementary to his voice.
"Red Berries" by Angus & Julia Stone...beautiful, melodic, and poetic. Music for the soul!
Ironically in response to a missive about colors, I have to keep things black and white: "Paint it Black" by The Rolling Stones and "White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane.
"Don't Stop (Colors on the Wall)" by Foster the People
Hmm. One only? "Gold Lion"? "Gold on the Ceiling"? "Gold Dust Woman"? "Purple Rain"? "Red Hill Mining Town"? "Mr. Blue Sky"? "Red Dress"? :)
Initially I wanted to quote a Magnetic Fields song which includes a great lyric about color, but then I realized that the song is called "Reno Dakota" so no dice. "You know you enthrall me and yet you don't call me; it's making me blue, Pantone 292".
So I moved onto "Big Yellow Taxi" by Joni Mitchell because even though it's all about the city taking over (paving paradise and putting up a parking lot & such), it's such a bouncy, chipper, cheery sounding song, just like I imagine the color yellow would be.
And this reminder never hurts: "Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone."
The ones the came to mind were: "Black and Blue" by Miike Snow, "Cinder and Smoke" by Iron and Wine, and "Pink Bullets" by The Shins. "Black and Blue" took the Gold medal.
It's not that I find the song particularly better than the others, but the memories it holds. Every time I play Miike Snow, and especially this song, I recall my time in SE Asia. I finally gave Miike Snow a chance when we were staying in Saigon, Vietnam. I remember the week we stayed at the Le Duy (Leh-Zhui) Hotel, as everyday we loaded the bus, I would start a Miike Snow playlist. I can still feel that sticky, sticky, air. It held the scents of all this sweet, vinegary, and funky, from close by and the great beyond.
His music reminds me of a time when I made different decisions; not better, not worse, just different. Sometimes when I listen to Miike Snow, I ask myself, what could I possibly be doing right now that I wouldn't dare imagine doing, and how do I make it into a possibility. That's one of the greatest things, I think, we tend to forget: "Humans are filled with infinite possibilities."
I love "White Winter Hymnal" by Fleet Foxes; I can never resist its simple melody.
I'd have to say "Heart of Gold" by Neil Young and "Pink Moon" by Nick Drake are great, and I'm sure I'm just forgetting about many others, but one of my all time favorites is "Gold in the Air of Summer" by Kings of Convenience. It's the tune of the bittersweet last moments of a late summer sunset.
For a song with a colour in the title, I select "Song For A Blue Guitar" by Red House Painters. This song will make you fall in love with the sound of the pedal steel guitar. When I hear this song, I feel this flutter of longing and love rise up inside me.
My song featuring a colour is 'Orange sky' by Alexi Murdoch, one of my favourite songs of all time. It reminds of my days listening to the song during my daily commute to school and it was one of the first songs I played in my car on the day I passed my driving test. A lot of pleasant memories with this one.
Hands down my favorite song with a color in the title is "Yellow" by Coldplay. The lyrics resonate with me and always make me think of my 16 year old daughter fondly. "Look at the stars, look how they shine for you, and everything you do, yeah, they are all yellow."
So many songs to choose from. I finally landed on one: "Have You Ever Had It Blue" by The Style Council. Primarily because the song lyrics are so completely and utterly at odds with the music. Delightfully skewed.
"Pale Fire" by Perro Del Mar. Neither of those are actually colors, but describe one quite clearly, don't they?
"Till The Sun Turns Black" by Ray LaMontagne. This song covers the gamut of human experience. Whether "the young and pretty", "the old and lonely", "the corporate man", "the working classes", or "the wise man", we are all subject to "when the sun turns black." The paths taken by each of these are vastly different, but they all end when the sun turns black. What strikes me though is the wise man. He's not concerned with laughing in the shops, his possessions, or other things. His focus is on "living, loving quietly" and "every breath he takes eternity." Earlier in the song, the question of "who we are" is asked, and I always come back to that wise man. I want to live and love quietly, with every breath an eternity. Until the sun turns black.
"Any Colour You Like" by Pink Floyd or "Tangerine" by Led Zeppelin
Building the Minimum Badass User. Read (or better, watch) this fantastic talk by Kathy Sierra, which echoes some of the thoughts she shared in her founding member essay, The API of You:
And we know that practice does not make perfect, right? The real phrase is that perfect practice makes perfect. But the big problem is that practice does make permanent. So the more exposure you have to examples of mediocre, the more likely that is to burn in. So we need to jump people ahead, by giving them lots of exposure to the really good, whatever that is.
Relax! You'll Be More Productive by Tony Schwartz:
More and more of us find ourselves unable to juggle overwhelming demands and maintain a seemingly unsustainable pace. Paradoxically, the best way to get more done may be to spend more time doing less. A new and growing body of multidisciplinary research shows that strategic renewal — including daytime workouts, short afternoon naps, longer sleep hours, more time away from the office and longer, more frequent vacations — boosts productivity, job performance and, of course, health.
In celebration of Valentine's Day, What is your funniest first date memory?