How about something uplifting? Angelique Kidjo duetting with American R’N’B star Kelly Price, perhaps? One of Kidjo’s great talents is seamlessly putting together seemingly disparate musical styles, and this is no exception. She and Price sound great together, and the African and the American sides fit together in one funky whole.
Say what you will about all the downsides of rock stars getting old, but there are some themes that only make sense coming from an older perspective. Feeling threatened by younger, better looking rivals is one of them. A young Mick Jagger would never be threatened by any other man. A Mick Jagger in his 50’s could be forgiven for worrying about getting traded in for an upgrade. For an egomaniac rock star who’s used to being on top of the world, aging provides an opening for showing a more vulnerable side, a chance to write about something other than being the cock of the walk. I think it’s no coincidence that The Rolling Stones have produced some really outstanding ballads in their later years.
So apparently David Bowie wrote this for the soundtrack of a video game, which makes David Bowie considerably more hip to the times than I am. Which is as it should be, because he’s David Bowie, of course, trailblazing his way into the new millennium. I remember being ecstatic in 1999 when ‘Hours…‘ came out, which for me meant stealing merchandise at the record shop. (Yeah, I stole a few posters and buttons, that’s not why they went out of business!) To my impressionable mind it was as good as anything ever, and as an adult somewhat capable of objectivity, I still think it is. Not that Bowie has never lost momentum, but he’s maintained consistency since the droopy period in the 80’s, and everything he does is part of the grand scheme of things.
“You never know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone”
A grain of wisdom oft rephrased and repeated. So Angelique Kidjo suggests, appreciate what you’ve got and the moment you’re living in. But remember also the flip side, the old adage about the clarity of hindsight; some of the things you’ve lost or left behind may not have been that great at all.
So boppy, yet so existential. I too feel so damn old, and yet unchanged and still a child. And the equation that powers the universe remains a conundrum. And nothing every really even ends in the end either. Do I really feel anything? I’d like to. Right now I just feel existential. But yet boppy, you know…
A depressing song from a depressing songwriter. Elliott Smith frequently wrote about addiction and despair, being an alcoholic and drug addict himself. But he did so in a disarmingly charming style. Such is the balance of hummable charm and blackest ennui that this song can best be summed up as ‘exactly the perfect sort of tune to score a suicide scene in a Wes Anderson movie’. Which, to Smith’s chagrin, is exactly what happened when Anderson used the song in The Royal Tenenbaums to score a suicide scene. Perhaps Smith found it was in poor taste… and in hindsight, it’s a bit disturbing, given that the singer may have committed suicide himself. Yet, I think it’s a good match, a contrast of dark and bright that fits.
This is, in the world of too-invested Rolling Stones fans, controversial. Mainly because Keith doesn’t like it. Man, Keith really hates this song! There’s like a whole paragraph in his book about what a disgrace it is. Why? Because they used a drum loop. The Rolling Stones never use drum loops! Apparently it’s a sore point that Mick Jagger wanted to bring in The Dust Brothers to produce Bridges to Babylon, Keith hated the direction they were going in, and they were fired from the record. But not before several songs were produced featuring such ungodly innovations as looping and samples. Keith has a point that there’s absolutely no reason to use a drum loop when you have Charlie, but I don’t think it’s really as terrible as he thinks it is. I think it’s actually a pretty good song, just not fully playing to the Rolling Stones’ biggest strengths. Oh well, that’s why Mick Jagger gets to make solo albums.