Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Warning: What Follows Could Depress You

With autumn here, a bit of melancholy has seeped in. Not in a bad way. I actually enjoy that bittersweet feeling that comes with the setting of another year, as the world goes to rest.

Alas, the only way to get a decent soundtrack involves really depressing songs. But, that's OK, too.

There's some irony here. The man singing here, Peter Steel, died last year. So, I guess he was right. I like his baritone voice, though.

Here's another cheery selection, musing on the possibility that our world might not be as marvelous as like to pretend.

I should be clear. I am fortunate beyond words in so many ways in my life. I have a beautiful, loving wife; the most wonderful daughters a father could imagine; I am gainfully employed, and the most difficult financial worry we have is how we are going to make all the payments for our Disney trip next March.

So much the rest of the world suffers just to survive. Children die from preventable diseases. Rival factions from Sierra Leone through Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and beyond kill and destroy for power. Central Africa struggles to settle itself after a decade-long war that was the equivalent of the First World War in Europe in terms of body count and political upheaval. Syria, Yemen, Libya, Iraq, and so many other countries are wracked by de facto civil war. In Burma, you can be jailed for having contact with relatives outside the country.

In other words, a melancholy, less than sunny view of the world helps one keep perspective. On a planet where children quite literally shit out their insides, where men are trained to kill through enforced desensitization - using random hostages as targets - and young women strap bombs to their bodies, it seems to me that we need to remember the real horrors of life.

It isn't all cut and dried, though. Even in the midst of horror, there can be beauty. Music, for example, helps us remember that.

The Narrow Way: Part I - Pink Floyd
Come See About Me - The Supremes
Vesperae Solennes Confessore: Dixit Dominus - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Blue Skies (Live, Carnegie Hall, 1938) - Benny Goodman Orchestra
Sorrow - The National
Howlin' At The Moon (Live) - Kansas
Poor Boy Blues - Ramblin' Thomas
Innocence - Renaissance
Break It Down Again - Tears For Fears
Cheating The Polygraph - Porcupine Tree

I will be less solipsistic next week, reflecting on the ridiculous, irrelevant Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees. See, one of the most inventive, interesting, consistently awesome bands around will never . . . ever . . . make that "august" institution. Steven Wilson is a musical genius, and one of his many outlets is his band Porcupine Tree, who will be eligible next year. Here's one of my favorites of theirs, which also goes along with today's theme (as do most of their songs, really).

The tour-guitarist with the gorgeous high tenor is American-born singer-songwriter John Wesley. With a name like that, a good United Methodist like me would automatically be a fan. Here's his website, where you can download his albums for free!

Virtual Tin Cup

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