Friday, March 18, 2011

Z is for Zip

Z-Zero, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Now here is a song I could dance to, especially to celebrate the end of my alphabet. Being faceless in a crowd and losing your inhibitions seem prominent themes. I love the climax at “crying” and “climb higher.” In fact, most of the tune seems sexually charged, especially considering the mention of leather. This is just decent dance music that makes you think. And remember children, being a zero is always better than being a negative one...

Shake it like a ladder to the sun…

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Zero,” It’s Blitz!, 2009

Y is for Yearning

Y-You Don’t Bring Me Flowers. This grandiose love song is about a broken relationship. The orchestra swells and fades just as the vocal lines do, thus making it a truly emotional experience. Barbara Streisand and Neil Diamond are two of my all time favorite singers, so it’s no surprise that this one made the list. My younger sister and I used to sing this together…I selfishly stole Streisand’s lines every time, thereby making my sister “the guy.” It really wasn’t fair, but Diamond’s range is just a little low for me, and when you sing the part an octave higher it all kind of sounds the same. The song needs to have a distinct male and female voice for it to feel right. Now that I’ve rambled enough about this one I think I’ll go sing it in the shower…

Well, I learned how to love and I learned how to lie. So you think I could learn how to tell you goodbye…

Neil Diamond and Barbara Streisand, “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” I’m Glad You’re Here With Me Tonight, 1977

X is for Xanax, Baby

X-Xanax and Wine. I love most U2 songs. “Xanax and Wine” is no exception. It opens with a loud and dirty guitar riff. The song itself seems comprised of three distinct sections. The accompaniment clearly changes on the line “all I want is a picture of you” and again at the chorus of “save me.” The lyrics seem to be about replacing a relationship with substance abuse, needing one or the other to survive. Or they may just signify needing a moment of calm in a world of chaos. However, as far as side effects are concerned, taking Xanax and drinking wine is not widely recommended.

All I want is a picture in a locket, your face in my pocket; I take a pill to stop it.

U2, “Xanax and Wine,” Unreleased and Rare, 2004

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

W is for Weary

W- Walk Away. The simplicity of this song is striking. It is a man with a unique and forlorn vocal instrument narrating a tale about the end of a relationship. The sparse guitar accompaniment gives the song the appropriately empty feeling. The song is honest, and heartbreakingly true. “It’s so hard to do, and so easy to say. But sometimes, sometimes, you just have to walk away…”

They say time will make all this go away. But it’s time that has taken my tomorrows and turned them into yesterdays…

Ben Harper, “Walk Away,” Welcome to the Cruel World, 1994

Thursday, March 10, 2011

V is for Vulnerable

V- Voices Carry. Ah, yes, another throwback to the 80s. The instrumentation on this one is unobtrusive, leaving plenty of room for the weighty lyrics. This is a story of a man more in love with his ego than he is with his unfortunate female companion. It is a song about suffering through the lack of reciprocation of feelings and respect. I have had a relationship like this one, unfortunately. Perhaps that’s why this song strikes a chord with me. The melody is a great one to sing along to because of the dynamic changes: there are certain parts where you can really belt it out, if you want. The addition of voices at the end is particularly effective, and gives the last part of the song a haunting quality.

He wants me, but only part of the time. He wants me, if he can keep me in line…

‘Til Tuesday, “Voices Carry,” Voices Carry, 1985

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

U is for Unforgettable

U- Unchained Melody. This song will always remind me of the movie Ghost, but that’s only one of the reasons I enjoy it so much. It is straightforward as far as the lyrics are concerned: it is an unapologetic plea for love. Note that opening instrumentation is simple, and then the orchestra is introduced. The swell of the orchestra enhances the sweeping romantic feel of the melody. The melody itself contains many well placed embellishments. Dynamic contrast is present in both the melody and the supporting instrumentation, and this further augments the emotional elements of the piece. The incorporation of the chorus at the end emphasizes the final major chord perfectly.

Lonely rivers sigh, wait for me; wait for me. I’ll be coming home, wait for me…

“Unchained Melody,” written by Alex North and Hy Zaret, performed by the Righteous Brothers, 1965