Livin in the Past

Hello m'friends,

Here I be with another smattering of Japan guaranteed.

I love The Wiz. Me and my sis have burgeoning childhood associations with that film and the sounds that came out of it. Crappy production or no, it embodied the Big Apple on the brink of the 80's when it was an older kind of badass.

Picture the scene when they first get to the Emerald City. How staggering, how bright, how brilliant Manhattan at night. Everyone is dressed to the nine and shining like a galaxy. Minako Yoshida (美奈子吉田) belongs in that TOWN with both lips from the very first trademark riff. Does anyone use that swanky thing anymore? It screams the era out loud. Yoshida's hair alone has more soul than a very soulful thing. Later she became known for singing gospel but in this town she's covered in spangles, too much green shadow and rockin the disco like the rent depends on it.

That Umbrella song...

For my next offering, I give you the one man boy band Inoue Yosui (井上陽水). This man's been covered more times than a very covered thing. A powerhouse in his time, he was responsible for the first million-selling album in Japan. Oh, do they like him here. His song writing prowess did great things for Puffy who established a name overseas (Puffy AmiYumi). He has a profound knack for what the people wanna hear.

It was no shock to me that my first exposure to him was through a cover. I had been devouring anything by UA of late and found a most mournful blues melody titled 傘が無い or Kasa Ga Nai. (Ain't Got no Umbrella). You don't have to understand the lyrics to know you're being trodden by cold rain and contemplating doom.

UA has a graceful way of bringing you down. She sings sad songs like the French make wine, expertly. Her pain is slow, aching and sweet. Inoue's was meant for a smoky snack bar full of lost souls and old peanuts. UA's deep voice took Inoue's rainy day and gave it thunder.

Here is UA's version.

Here is Inoue's original.

Side note: Woah! When did the Eagles start releasing albums in Japanese? Nah, that's just Fukinotou (ふきのとう) with another vintage folk act from the vaults 白い冬 or "White Winter". I hear this song and immediately think of mountains not deserts.

I have oft heard my students sing a children's song designed, as children's songs are wont to do, to be ingrained.

Ken Hirai (平井堅) is gorgeous and when I close my eyes, I think I'm listening to one of those Boyz turned Men. His cover of this sad nursery standard sends me unusual vibes. It's called.
大きな古時計or Ookina Furudokei. ("Grandfather's Clock"). It's easy to sing and fun as long as you don't think of the lyrics. It recalls a boy's fond memory of the clock, from the day his grandfather was born to the day he died and it stopped running.

Children love to make the "tick tock" sound. I gotta say it takes some of the melancholy out.

Way too many downers on the field. Let's break it up, yes?

It takes a presence profound for me to enjoy Japanese males singing. Madness is one. A hectic tempo another. I recently witnessed one of my Japanese friends sing this Royal Pain in the Ass by The Unicorns (ユニコーン) who were a pretty heavy item in their day. Oh but do they split my sides! Poor Kazu was quite spent when it was over. The song is aptly titled 大迷惑 Oomeiwaku (Royal Pain in the Ass). If a Looney Tune were to manifest itself in music, it would sound something like this.

Oh man, I can't believe I haven't pushed this on you earlier. This track has worn itself out on my Ipod. If it were a CD, it'd be long past the skipping point. It's called 赤い靴は踊る or Akai Kutsu wa Odoru (Red Dancing Shoes) and it is by Sugar Mama who have been compared to another Japanese jazz fusion band, Ego Wrappin'. I can hear Aterciopelados or some other husky-voiced Colombian singing this with nary a qualm. It's quirky, sexy and like most fusion bands, not going to take you anywhere you expect. Their music is mainly a mix of jazz with some Latin and a little bit of soft rock. I like to fantasize tangos and picture myself singing this song with flowers in my hair and lips in a hue no less than 4 shades too dark.

Okay, that's enough. Tune in next month when I rant psychotic about the
Ulfuls (ウルフルズ )
and how much I cannot say their name.

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Shine so very dimly

Dear friends,

About an hour ago, ???? many years ago, after a poker game and the sound of gunfire coming off the street* that made my mother jump from one twin bed to another, I was born. They say it's my birthday and it is. I plan on having dinner with my honey and my momz. Life is grand.

Thanks to the largesse of an internet friend with WAY better sleuthing skills than I, I finally have the fabulous album that this song is on. Yipeee! I LOVE EMPEEETHREEEES!

Cinderella Backstreet/Peter Laughner (mp3)**

Buy (Ha! Good Luck with that!) Take The Guitar Player For A Ride by Peter Laughner.

Love, D

* Chile had some strife back in the day.

** It's true, the Backstreet Boys were named after the song.

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Let him see your face

Dear friends,

Once more with music...

Neon Lights presents @ Union Hall TONIGHT!!!


photo by Chelsea Sutton

Fringed Bleeding Heart/She Keeps Bees* (mp3)


photo by Mimi Cabell

Head Spins/High Places (mp3)


photo by Victor Tavares

The Men Who Live Upstairs/The Most Serene Republic (mp3)

$10, 21+, 7:30 PM doors

DJs: Chris from Battering Room/Knockout! and Justin and Nghia from Crackers United/Friction.

Love, D

* Just 'cause they're on early is no reason to miss this fine Brooklyn duo.

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And the lights go down

Dear friends,

AAAAAAAAAAAH! That's the kind of week I've had. I don't sleep. When I do, I dream about not being able to sleep. So I watch TV instead*.

But I digress...czech it:

Neon Lights presents @ Union Hall on Friday, September 21, 2007
Poster designed by Michaela Drapes

How could I have forgotten to tell you? Yes, it will be excellent, there's no question of that. My birthday is next Tuesday, September 25th (cough, cough, hint, hint) so if you cannae see me during the week, come see me this weekend.

From the There's More dept.

NL Partner Jeff K tells you all about High Places and She Keeps Bees and provides you with lovely MP3s on Merry Swankster.

Bumpershine says that if you aren't observing the Kol Nidre you should go!

Pop Tarts Suck Toasted band-o'-the-week-ed High Places.

No Yeti Dance says High Places are very good indeed.

Prefix offers you the chance to WIN TICKETS TO THE SHOW!

Love, D

* ANTM started again. My money's on the autistic girl. I watched Gossip Girl after 'cause I love the lead's young Ellen Barkin look but found the series a little too OC in the City. After that, I watched the new HBO show Tell Me You Love Me AKA White People With Issues AKA PORN! For real, that show is explicit-tastic. I mean J and I had a half hour discussion about whether or not the penis that was on screen was real or not. Now THAT'S what I call programming.

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Take her place and start again

Dear friends,

My head hurts like nobody's business. This song is helping me soothe the savage beast inside my skull.

Ghost Story/Mistakes (mp3)

This blurry man can help you with your migraine.

Sadly, Mistakes are disbanding. I have no idea why but I suppose I'll ferret out some kind of story, ghostly or not, from somebody soon enough. Boys, what can I say? Thanks for letting me stalk you. We'll always have Club Europa!

Mistakes play their last show EVER tonight at The Annex. They're on at 10 PM. It's $10. The mighty Dragons of Zynth are playing too. Go.

Download Crying*Tiger*Lady for FREE at their website.

Love, D

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And today it looks like a busted lip

Dear friends,

Guitar Feelings by The Muggabears has a pleasing symmetry. The hissed "Rejoice" which is muttered twice in the song works like brackets; the thrill that leads to another, greater thrill and the seemingly ordinary experience in between. Not that the song itself is commonplace. It teases by working in tiny bursts of well...feeling. It sounds, by turns, flirtatious and shy. Like a boy at a party crushing on a girl and letting alcohol make him slowly bolder. Until he's shoving her around a bit too roughly and she just takes off. It doesn't matter that much to him though. He got what he wanted, namely, some kind of small social interaction and tonight he will fall asleep with a smile on his face.

Personal note: when Travis Muggabears first played me this unreleased song months ago after ANTM or something*, I started laughing and slurred, fauxpagne-goofy, "It sounds JUST like Bone, Thugs + Harmony!" This makes a kind of sense, in that it's the first Muggabears song where the vocals are actively leading the beat. It's probably what makes me feel, despite the gnomic specifics of the lyrics, that this song is the most playful of Muggabears tracks. The vocal part jerks and stops in unexpected ways, forcing you to pay a little more attention to what's being said. Well played, Travis Johnson, well played. So what's next?

Guitar Feelings/The Muggabears (mp3)

Buy Night Choreography by The Muggabears.

Befriend The Muggabears on My Space.

Love, D

* Yes, I kept it from you dear reader. I was only just given the green light to let my love for this song be known.

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I don't care where we go, I don't care what we do

Dear friends,

No, that is not a stop light. I showed The Monkey a photo that looked exactly this and shouted excitedly, "It's the MOON! When it rises from the sea it's RED! And ENORMOUS! It comes outta the water! YOU GOTTA SEE IT!!!" He's used to my squeals about random things. It's a childhood habit I've never outgrown.

We went to a place called Beach Haven for Labor Day weekend and stayed at the ominously named Jolly Roger Motel, which wound up being nicer than expected, not a pirate in sight. The plan was to relax and catch that rising moon at some point. My mom asked me what we did all weekend. I told her we talked, read, and stood in the crashing, shell-strewn surf. We ate great food that was definitely bad for us. We tried to get to the tip of the island, to better inspect Atlantic City in the distance but turned back when it became apparent that it was further away than it looked. By the time we got to Sunday, my mind was empty, my shoulders slack and I was barely thinking. Which is why I didn't think it odd that he was carrying around his bag everywhere we went. And also why I completely forgot the English language when, on that darkened beach at 10:23 pm*, a few moments after the red streetlight made its first bright appearance to our left, J asked me to marry him.

I know he said some things, I missed them all. I think I laughed for five minutes straight until a rogue wave came out of nowhere and doused our feet. He caught me by surprise; he's the only one who does.

I think this song sums it up nicely.

Take Me With U/Prince and the Revolution (mp3)

Buy Music from the Motion Picture "Purple Rain" by Prince and the Revolution

I played it in the car as we drove into town and sang along to Wendy's (or is it Lisa's?) part with WAY too much feeling. I don't think I've 100% sold him yet on the genius of His Purple Majesty but I'm gonna keep trying. I think he'll come around.

Love, D

PS This is a better photo of our lunar friend.

* There were conflicting moonrise times in the newspapers. Yes, I checked before we went out.

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