tom-waits-franks-wild-years

Please Wake Me Up

Do you sometimes find yourself wishing your life was more like a Tom Waits song? I do. My life needs more sad romance and trains. I would hop on a train when my romances got too sad and start over a few towns down the line.Tom Waits exists as the antidote to the vanguard of successful sexy people who mock your failures and exploit your inadequacies.  In Tom Waits’ world, you’re not just a trashy drunk old woman down at the bar; you’re a sad luck dame, and you have a story to tell. In Tom Waits’ world, ugly old used up things have more value. Because ugly things have better stories than clean new shiny ones. Yeah, all that’s missing from my life is a Victrola, a kerosene lamp, and a mattress stuffed with horsehair.

Duffy_-_Rockferry_(album)

Please Stay

There’s nothing like a good torch song. Even if it’s corny, it’s still good for cleansing for the tear ducts. Especially in the hands of an emotive singer, of course. I think that Duffy, despite her limited output, is one of the most outstanding torch singers in recent memory. Her voice is different; she’s not what they call a powerhouse. But her grasp of emotional nuance is above and beyond the normal diva range. Also, her tastes run retro – retro to the point of near-camp sometimes. It works, though it’s a tricky aesthetic to pull off consistently. It works because a lot of torch songs are, let’s face it, retrograde; you need a hint of irony to leverage that out.

louderthanbombs

Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want

Morrissey himself can’t play this song with a straight face anymore, but if the singer has outgrown his own youthful angst, the sentiment lives on none the less. And frankly, the sensation that the one thing that you really, really, really want is always and forever out of reach may not ever entirely go away. Sure, the world is full of people who know of no reality beyond their own entitlement; they must have happy lives, the same way that some of the less-sentient animals must have happy lives. For the rest of us, there’s the nagging and pervasive sensation that personal satisfaction lies behind a door marked No Admittance. And while lack of access to material indulgences is fairly easy to salve away through zen mindfulness or some other philosophical contortion, the disinterest and rejection we face in the interpersonal realm is wounding. Again and again we bump up against the saddening reality that our feelings count for nothing, and no matter how passionately we may feel, the feelings of others remain untouchable, incomprehensible, completely and utterly beyond influence. So we mope. We mope and we cry and we shake a wan fist at the world. Then we mope some more.

pleasepleaseme_audio_cover

Please Please Me

I can’t say another word about the historical significance of Beatlemania. I don’t want to read any more words about it either. The Beatles have evolved, as historical figures, from a head-scratching phenomenon in their own time, to being subject to hindsight analysis from every conceivable angle, and at this point with absolutely no stone left unrolled, have entered the realm of pure academia, where overly-researched subjects go to die. Which is to say that the entertainment value of ever more arcane reiterations of the same well known story has become very low. But over-familiarity shouldn’t in any way take away from the still-unparalleled fun of The Beatles’ music. It’s all about the music, ya know. And the music doesn’t really need an annotated companion volume. It doesn’t need all that historical context. It doesn’t need analysis. It just exists. Just enjoy it and don’t think so hard.

themarvelettes

Please Mr. Postman

 

The technology may have changed, but the sentiment remains the same. The Marvelettes shot to fame as one of the first Motown girl groups, in 1961; they helped form the template that became prevalent throughout the 60’s. Although so much material from that era is disturbingly problematic upon closer examination, this one’s innocence and simplicity is timeless. We may not depend on the actual postman for news of the outside world as much as we used to, but waiting for word is very much still a thing. It’s still a potent jumble of optimism and frustration. I don’t think there’s any technological advance that can change the experience of waiting, at the mercy of other people’s decisions, for our lives and relationships to somehow develop and move forward.

byrne

Please Don’t

Are you sick of hearing about this record yet? I suspect that you are, but I listen to this record a lot, so it comes up a lot. Also, it’s a really long album, it’s 22 songs and maybe it kind of runs together if you’re  not following the storyline, and a lot of the singers sound the same. But let me just say that this is one of the standout songs from Here Lies Love, and the only one that was released as a single. The singer is Santigold. The video is an official one and matches the lyrics of the song, featuring footage of protagonist Imelda Marcos mixing it up with various heads of state. Marcos was a glamorous woman with a taste for princess dresses with huge sleeves; it appears that she was charming, popular and well liked on the political circuit. Unfortunately, her husband was a corrupt tyrant who put his poverty-wracked country under martial law and embezzled state funds to support his family’s love of luxury. David Byrne suggests here that Imelda’s aggressively fashionable image was an attempt to put forward a pretty face so world wouldn’t look down on the Philippines as a backwards third world country.

blak_and_blu

Please Come Home

Gary Clark Jr. has been a leader in the recent soul music revival, and his album Blak and Blu is a prime example of how roots rock, funk and R’n’B are still fresh and modern, despite harking back to decades before the artist was born. Clark is also a native of my own adopted hometown of Austin TX, and residents have had the pleasure of discovering his music long before the rest of the world did. Clark is known for coming home to play the kind of small, intimate shows where young siblings and cousins jump onstage to sing backup and audience members can reach out touch the star’s shoes. I’ve seen Clark play on a few occasions, and his aw-shucks attitude belies his musicianship. I also have to say that hearing his songs on the radio when I first moved to Austin is one of my warmest  musical memories. So my affection for this particular record is very much tied into my own place and time. But I’m pretty confident that it’s also objectively one of the finest pieces of what the Grammy Awards refer to as “traditional R’n’B” in recent memory. Definitely one of the records of the decade, if you’re about ready to compiling that list.