Saturday, February 14, 2009

Love Lockdown: The Souled On Music Edition

Well children...this is it...the final episode in the Love Lockdown series. I've been savin' all my love for you, Whitney Houston style, to make sure that my friends could get their collective groove on first. I would hardly consider this a grand finale considering the caliber of what has already been brought to the (turn)table this past week...but as the host of this prolific love jam, I thought it only right for me to throw in my two cents.

As far as my selections are concerned...yes, I dug a handful of "what the fuck?" records from the crates from my tiny little heart to all of yours. If you're a regular visitor to this spot, you know that I tend to feature a love song in almost every post. However, I usually primarily focus on classic soul, funk, and hip hop music, so I wanted to branch out a bit for this exercise and roll with some joints that might not otherwise get any play around here.

I have to tell you that for the most part, romantic love is an exceptionally bitter pill for me to swallow, although I do believe that it's absolutely essential for the fortification of the soul. I'm quite sure that these song choices will reflect my overall ambivalence, and like many of my fellow audiophiles, I ended up having to get a bit random in terms of what I elected to post. I can't claim these tracks to be objectively superior in any way, and on another day this list may have easily consisted of something altogether different. I will stand firmly behind them on one account, some point in my life they have all profoundly resonated with me for some deeply personal reason.

Much gratitude to all of my friends for your outstanding input, and to the rest of the Souled On family for passing through to vibe with us during our countdown to Valentine's Day.

It's still all love, kids...


"Do I"---Alice Smith (LimeLinx)
"Do I"---Alice Smith (YSI)

This track doesn't deviate from the norm quite as much as some of the others, but with relatively few exceptions, I don't fuck with a whole lot of post-1974 mainstream R&B albums. Despite this informal and arguably snobbish rule of thumb, Alice Smith is quite a different story altogether. Simply put, I unabashedly adore her.

For Lovers, Dreamers and Me is a fully engaging front-to-back listen, but "Do I" still gives me chills every time I hear it. It's evidently in my DNA to complicate the living shit out of...everything...and this is perhaps especially true as it pertains to matters of the heart. If by chance I find myself overanalyzing, scrutinizing, and anticipating the ultimate failure of a relationship, this track sort of grabs me by the nape of my neck and pulls my stupid head out of my ass.

Loving someone can be so easy when you allow your convoluted thought processes to take a momentary rest. Believe me.

Qualifying lyrics:

I don't wanna
have to think about
The ways that we'll be bad
I don't wanna think about
The days that we'll be sad
Do I?

"Jism"---Tindersticks (LimeLinx)
"Jism"---Tindersticks (YSI)

Let me qualify this selection by stating up front that this is not your typical love song with a title that doubles as a slang word for sperm. "Jism" is at first a far more elegant affair than its connotations and implications might otherwise is however, one of the most beautifully troubling songs I've ever heard. The music somewhat deceptively lures you in by treading rather softly, but the song begins to bear a tremendous heaviness once the gravity of the lyrics finally settles into the imagination. Perhaps not the most suitable listening for the faint of heart, but a powerful depiction of love's morally reprehensible underside nonetheless.

Qualifying lyrics:

Need these paper cuts
Need those gravel grinds
Need those pinches to wake me
Give up the drugs
Take the power I offer
Oh the deeper I go
The further I fall
The more I know
The tighter your grip around me

"Move You Run"---Smith & Mighty w/ Tammy Payne (LimeLinx)
"Move You Run"---Smith & Mighty w/ Tammy Payne (YSI)

Without getting unnecessarily personal, suffice it to say that I often have an inclination to run like hell when love starts getting too close for comfort. Human nature rightly lends itself to a fight or flight reaction whenever one feels...ummm...threatened, and quiet as it's kept, I don't have a violent bone in my body. This song is intended as an apology for every time I've gone ghost like Swayze just as the intensity was beginning to build.

Qualifying lyrics:

I know you can see that I wanted to try

"Absolute Beginners"---David Bowie (LimeLinx)
"Absolute Beginners"---David Bowie (YSI)

When I pulled this song out the other day, it suddenly sounded somewhat dated. That said, it can never lose its personal relevance considering that it was one of the songs playing most loudly in the background the first time I fell in love. It serves as a painfully pleasant reminder that I will never be so fiercely innocent ever again. That's a miraculous blessing...and a wicked curse.

Qualifying lyrics:

I've nothing much to offer
There's nothing much to take
I'm an absolute beginner
And I'm absolutely sane
As long as we're together
The rest can go to hell
I absolutely love you
But we're absolute beginners
With eyes completely open
But nervous all the same

If our love song
Could fly over mountains
Could laugh at the ocean
Just like the films
There's no reason
To feel all the hard times
To lay down the hard lines
It's absolutely true

Nothing much could happen
Nothing we can't shake
Oh we're absolute beginners
With nothing much at stake
As long as you're still smiling
There's nothing more I need
I absolutely love you
But we're absolute beginners
But if my love is your love
We're certain to succeed

If our love song
Could fly over mountains
Sail over heartaches
Just like the films
There's no reason
To feel all the hard times
To lay down the hard lines
It's absolutely true

"Legs"---PJ Harvey (LimeLinx)
"Legs"---PJ Harvey (YSI)

There's an underlying pathology to this song that makes it as eeriely disturbing as it is undeniably compelling. PJ Harvey's first couple of albums (Dry and Rid Of Me) were especially riddled with crash-and-burn heartache and histrionics, which made her music an appropriate soundtrack to the classic unhealthy, angst-ridden, dizzyingly psychotic romance.

I was listening to Rid Of Me quite a bit when I first became involved with a very intense artist who stayed locked up in a bedroom for 3 days (on a strict diet of cigarettes and Dr. Pepper) in order to render a near-perfect portrait of Ms. Harvey as a gift to yours truly. It remains one of my most prized love artifacts to this very day.

Qualifying lyrics:

wail scream wail..."you were going to be my life/ damn it"

"Country Feedback"---R.E.M. (LimeLinx)
"Country Feedback"---R.E.M. (YSI)

Out Of Time is the album that sort of marked R.E.M.'s transition from indie darlings to a commercially viable mainstream act. A great deal of the LP's success can be attributed to its blockbuster international hits, "Losing My Religion" and "Shiny Happy People", but on my cassette, the tape was worn thinnest at the point of "Country Feedback".

Stipe sings the narrative so convincingly from a first-person perspective that the lyrics sound like a catharsis of his own inner demons. "Country Feedback" comes across as a tormented confessional, and it may be trite to say so, but you can literally feel his pain. The quiet chaos, desperation, and bumbling confusion Stipe exudes envelopes the listener in a whirlwind of contorted emotions, and the cyclone simply won't let your feet touch the ground until the very last chord is played.

Qualifying lyrics:

This flower is scorched
This film is on
On a maddening loop
These clothes
These clothes don't fit us right
I'm to blame
It's all the same
It's all the same

I was central
I had control
I lost my head
I need this
I need this

It's crazy what you could have had

"JC"---Sonic Youth (LimeLinx)
"JC"---Sonic Youth (YSI)

I've always been of the mindset that only pretentious assholes claim to understand the precise meaning behind your average Sonic Youth joint. My experience with their music is purely visceral...I think it's a grave error to overintellectualize just about anything from their canon of works. Their lyrics are confoundingly abstract, and it often sounds as if they tuned their guitars to the sounds of the subway, so it seems foolish to apply the usual standards for critical analysis to the majority of their output. For myself, I put on their records to simply lose myself in the throes of their emotive fuzziness.

Bearing that in mind, "JC" may not have actually been intended as a love song...or was it? For all the hell I know, they may have been enigmatically tipping their hat to Jesus Christ, or perhaps the whole affair was a blissful, psychedelic byproduct of a pleasantly drug-addled sunny day afternoon. Who knows...who cares? This is what love sounds like to me...bewitching, undefinable, and occasionally cacophonous.

Qualifying lyrics:

And air so thin it weighs a ton - you can see as far as fun
You're nothing but a history - a second here and then you're gone
Quicksand, quicksand all around - turn the corner just beyond
The shadows move and change the groove - and something tells me not to brood

You're walking through my heart once more
Don't forget to close the door - I'm not certain of what you found

"Leif Erikson"---Interpol (LimeLinx)
"Leif Erikson"---Interpol (YSI)

All forms of art are open to subjective interpretation, but I've always thought that the reference to Leif Erikson in this track's title is a metaphor for exploring uncharted emotional territory.

I found myself listening to this song a lot while a very long-term relationship was winding to a close. It seemed unlikely that anyone could understand what I was going through, let alone inspire a spontaneous regeneration of everything I'd lost, misplaced, or voluntarily severed during that period of my life. Emotional investment in the aftermath of a disastrous relationship is indeed analogous to learning a new language.

Qualifying lyrics: "she doesn't know that I left my urge in the icebox"

"Who Are You?"---Tom Waits (LimeLinx)
"Who Are You?"---Tom Waits (YSI)

Tom Waits' "Who Are You" is anything but everyday listening for fact, I hadn't pulled out my Bone Machine CD in quite some time. It's strange even to me that it made this list, but many years ago this was one of my favorite 3 a.m. songs. After a night of partying or socializing, I usually spend an hour or more chain-smoking and collecting my thoughts before I go to bed. The records I choose to meditate on usually bear a hint of melancholy...they at least tend to encourage reflective contemplation more so than something along the lines of NWA that I might listen to during the day.

It would be a struggle to explain my intensely personal relationship to this's complicated...but I will say that some of the lyrics are reminiscent of a particular love of my life, and all these years later, those same words continue to resonate.

Qualifying lyrics:

All the lies that you tell
I believed them so well. Take them back
Take them back to your red house
For that fearful leap into the dark
I did my time
In the jail of your arms
Now Ophelia wants to know
Where she should turn

Go on ahead and take this the wrong way
Time's not your friend
Do you cry? Do you pray?
Do you wish them away?
Do you still leave nothing
But bones in the way?
Did you bury the carnival
Lions and all?
Excuse me while I sharpen my nails
And just who are you this time?

How do your pistol and your Bible and your
Sleeping pills go?
Are you still jumping out of windows in expensive clothes?

Well I fell in love
With your sailor's mouth and your wounded eyes
You better get down on the floor
Don't you know this is war
Tell me who are you this time?

"Simple Twist Of Fate"---Bob Dylan (LimeLinx)
"Simple Twist Of Fate"---Bob Dylan (YSI)

Dylan's music has been dissected with the sharp-edged scalpel of some of the greatest writers of all time, so it would be complete foolishness for me to even attempt to analyze the composition of "Simple Twist Of Fate" from a critical standpoint. Rather than making objective assertions about its meaning, I only care to illustrate how I view the song through my personal lens.

I left home when I was a very young teenager, and as a result, I found myself living somewhat of a nomadic lifestyle in order to survive. It was typical for me to crash at people's houses for a few weeks and then move on to my next destination. No matter where I stayed, I always got around to asking if it was okay if I checked out the host's record collection. One of the places I stayed had a vinyl copy of Blood On The Tracks, and I remember listening to "Simple Twist Of Fate" throughout the tenure of my stay. I'm not sure that it was attached to anyone in particular...probably just some fleeting crush or something of that nature...but that song profoundly impacted my soul. It stayed in my head forever after that. I used to have to simply recall it in my mind until I was stabilized and able to afford my own copy. If that's not love, I don't know what is.

Qualifying lyrics:

They sat together in the park
As the evening sky grew dark,
She looked at him and he felt a spark tingle to his bones.
twas then he felt alone and wished that he'd gone straight
And watched out for a simple twist of fate.

They walked along by the old canal
A little confused, I remember well
And stopped into a strange hotel with a neon burnin bright.
He felt the heat of the night hit him like a freight train
Moving with a simple twist of fate.

A saxophone someplace far off played
As she was walkin by the arcade.
As the light bust through a beat-up shade where he was wakin up,
She dropped a coin into the cup of a blind man at the gate
And forgot about a simple twist of fate.

He woke up, the room was bare
He didnt see her anywhere.
He told himself he didnt care, pushed the window open wide,
Felt an emptiness inside to which he just could not relate
Brought on by a simple twist of fate.

He hears the ticking of the clocks
And walks along with a parrot that talks,
Hunts her down by the waterfront docks where the sailers all come in.
Maybe shell pick him out again, how long must he wait
Once more for a simple twist of fate.

People tell me its a sin
To know and feel too much within.
I still believe she was my twin, but I lost the ring.
She was born in spring, but I was born too late
Blame it on a simple twist of fate.

Fundamental Supplementals:

For those of you who miss my regular steez, here are a couple of my quintessential love jams from the soul side...

"You Are Everything"---The Stylistics (LimeLinx)
"You Are Everything"---The Stylistics (YSI)

"Give Me Your Love (DJ Danny Krivit's Extended Edit)"---The Sisters Love (LimeLinx)
"Give Me Your Love (DJ Danny Krivit's Extended Edit)"---The Sisters Love (YSI)

Word From Your Moms:

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hand
And ate of it.
I said, “Is it good, friend?”
“It is bitter—bitter,” he answered;
“But I like it
Because it is bitter,
And because it is my heart.
Stephen Crane, “The Heart”


Anonymous said...

wow, scholar, kudos for the courage to get so personal - made for a wonderfully raw offering. really really feeling Jism and of course the alice smith though i think i recall a time some scholar said they'd "rather watch her sing than listen to her cd." glad you changed your mind. be well

Anonymous said...

I was coming thru to say the same basic thing. Interesting to see you from another angle bro. Its easy to be hard, but it takes real courage for a man to show his heart. Thats real.

Sent you a couple reckids I methinks you might enjoy. Peep your box.

Styler said...

Scholar, I think this is one of your best posts my friend, a great honesty and warmth in your words and selection of music that, in truth, I did not expect to read/hear on this 'ere site. Bowie, Dylan, Waits, Polly Jean, R.E.M., Sonic Youth, Interpol...Eccellente!

Any reference to PJ always reminds me of my baby, wherever she may be. As much as I enjoy PJ Harvey, I only ever really listened to her in the company of said girl.
I also find myself listening to Interpol when love is close to breaking down or tearing us apart...It must be the Joy Division effect.
I enjoyed Alice Smith, who is new to me and gee shucks she looks sooo pretty!
Rounded off nicely with The Sisters Love covering a Curtis classic, they of course were founded by our girl Merry Clayton. All good baby, all good.

“The hottest love has the coldest end.”

Anonymous said...

I have to agree, I never thought I'd see Polly on these pages. I went through about 2 years of playing nothing but "Rid Of Me"... and Sonic Youth? Who woulda known. :)

This was a great series. Thanks again for letting me do that rather prolific mix. I know you were looking for 5 tunes, but I had a mix in me just waiting to get out, not to mention being stressed out with midterms which are FINALLY over!!!

Now when you get the opportunity, you still need to come on in my kitchen... :)

Peace and blessings.

Anonymous said...

GREAT call on the Tinerdersticks, bro. They don't get nearly enough press in the US as they should!

Anonymous said...

Really enjoyed this series, Scholar; keep dropping that knowledge on us! Been a long time PJ fan, never thought I'd see her or SY on this site... I love to get thrown curveballs. You the sickest, thanks for the extended and multifaceted tribute to this thing called love.

Anonymous said...

Hi Scholar. Remember me? I was mad at you for not accepting me as a friend on facebook or giving me feedback on the demo I sent you. Then you go and write something like this and I get all krushed out all over again. Mad love from the 713.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the entire series, Scholar. I haven't gotten a chance to listen to everything, but I downloaded almost all of it, so I will be checking them all out one day soon. It was cool to see so many different interpretations of the same idea (l-o-v-e). Good concept - good execution.



Unknown said...

enjoying Alice Smith thouroughly and playing her alongside Keziah Jones. tremendous selections all round. many thanks.

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be entertained

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