Thunderbolts cometh

So last night was my first time attending the Pitchfork Festival and my interest was purely in Bjork.

Unfortunately, about an hour into her performance, including “Thunderbolt” appropriately enough – they called the festival for the day because of an impending thunderstorm (which did break from the heavens minutes after we got on a bus). Bjork summoned the lightening and hence it came.

She was decked out in some weird head piece that was like an explosion between cellophane wands and Pinhead from Hellraiser:

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While still promoting the mostly dull ‘Biophilia’ album with it’s lack of melodies and structure, the other songs were truly brought to life and I was very pleased with “Army of Me” and the new rendition of “One Day” from ‘Debut.’

The video below (from the previous Volta tour) just kind of shows you the energy/vibe she puts on when doing the bangers:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2M0p33K1mng

The choir she has support her is amazing.

For more pics & a recap of day 1 of Pitchfork, check out BrooklynVegan.

The unfinished story.

prekiss flickr olivia bee

I keep coming back to this song.

Something about this is a reminder that grudges are nothing but a waste of time and feeling. Also a flag that you will always have a new perspective on people, events, places as you get older. And I see how the things you carry begin to shift their place and weight within your being as you age. Pain lessons, love deepens, awareness widens.

Nothing is ever predictable. And you will always have a new perspective on love, whether new or old.

People have to go on journeys. Some journeys start alone. Sometimes they start with another person. Sometimes people only start journeys after they part ways from another. Despite the cause, the journey is necessary.

And you never get to go back to who you were before.

And the wisdom with age is that over time, you’re glad you won’t go back. Because what you went through gave you so much more.

Hell may be other people, but nothing enriches your experience more than the wisdom, approach, attitude and spirit of other people – no matter the length of time they spend with you in your own narrative.

Photo courtesy Oliva Bee/Flickr.

It’s just the beginning.

2063359_7801504_lz

Well, December 21st came and went and we’re all still here. So either the Mayans were wrong, we were wrong about them or both. There’s something to be said for thinking that the world would ‘end’ – because I’m not even sure what that means. As I mentioned in the last post, defining the ‘end’ is always difficult.

And in most cases, we find that an end doesn’t even really exist. That instead of things ending, they just alter and something new or different begins.

And now that 2012 as a whole has come to a full stop, there’s the obvious conclusion that it’s never an end. It’s just the start of something else. But that moment of shifting perception is always up to you, not the calendar.

And as we are now fully into winter, one of my go-to albums for this time of year is Everything But The Girl’s ‘Temperamental.’ I can’t see what it is specifically that make me relate it to winter, but it’s probably because I used to walk around my college town at night with this just blaring in my headphones, snow falling around me. It felt intimate and dense, while both uplifting and melancholic.

httpa://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9E4GoAq_zh8

Or for something a little more uptempo…

httpa://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmqiSN2Q7PE

So what does 2013 hold in store for me? I’m not sure. Good stuff. Goodness. Big heartedness. Hope. Happiness. I mean, it started off with my karaoke rendition of this, including the improv pimp/ho call and response in the bar. I worked the room & made it a performance, being the show pony I am.

How does one top that? Easy. Keep doing it. In every way with every opportunity. Just shining. And that’s the reminder. Everybody shines. I think sometimes we’re too afraid or embarrassed to do so. But really, it’s when you feel the most ‘right’ in the world. And that’s my resolution to myself in this year and more – to tap into this feeling of ‘this is what I ought to be doing with my life because it makes me happy’ more and more.

I’m also blessed for the people in my life who make me laugh, keep me grounded and encourage me to go outside of my own fears. And I’m thankful for the abundance of love from the people around me, my friends, my family, my work family. And the moments of kindness from strangers that truly do just make my day and inspire me to be more kind to others for no good reason.

No resolve can be a resolution.

Your challenge is to best come to grips with reality that you’ll never have the closure you want.

It’s okay.

It’s okay.

 

httpv://youtu.be/b51gfCpVSa4

To feel this dissonance. And as you carry on, how you carry it with you will change. That’s what my medicine woman tells me. And I trust her and the cocktails she pours.

Best find a surgeon.

Last night I saw St. Vincent for the first time at the 312/Goose Island block party. She was pretty fantastic and I think I’m dedicating today to revisiting her catalog in full and giving her a more concentrated listen.

Favorite track, though, is “Surgeon.”

And this live version especially:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjZgiv2F1QY

Of course, the event was this weird amalgamation of hipsters, older folks, beer lovers and gays. So there you have it. Within that context, St. Vincent makes total sense.

It’s funny, I remember hearing her years ago right before her debut came out and I was a very passive listener. But her live show was much more raucous than I think how her albums play out so it’ll be good to revisit.

Things I’ve also been digging this week; I’m trying to be less playlist-making and more ‘This is how the artist built it, I shall listen to it as an entire composition’ about my listening habits.

Brandi Carlile, Bear Creak

Passion Pit, Gossamer

Frank Ocean, Channel Orange

’til you.

This may be my anthem.

I’ve realized I’ve been spinning my own wheels, filling the time with people and things that are merely illusory and filler. I can’t deny the desire for something deeper. I am holding out for the man that delivers it.

I do believe that my timeline is completely out of my hands and when I least suspect love, it will smack me in the face and wake me up from this slumber.

In the meantime, I challenge myself to make space for love within myself. Within my life. Within my own mind and heart.

There’s a part of me that feels ready and yet unprepared for Him. And I’m not talking about God, as in the religious usage of capitalizing Him. Him is this amorphous, undefined man who I will be with.

There were too many times where I said, “Ohh…Alright…” and felt nothingness. I felt empty. I was quite literally going through motions. And feeling nothing.

As I knew I would, I hit that wall and realized that I can’t just be with people for the sake of being with people so I’m not alone. I felt like I was not only forcing people into a bad situation where I expected too much, I was forcing myself to move on and be in a constant state of perpetual motion when it came to men.

I’m ready to slow down. I’m ready to get back to that place of being happy with or without. And while I haven’t really left that space, it’s been more backburner as of late. I’ve been spinning plates in the air again.

It’s time for a bit of a break. And this time my actions need to reflect that intent. I need to just stand still. And soak in the goodness of everything and everyone else without trying.

This song resonates because it came at a point where I had started to believe that meeting a man and settling into a long-term relationship was never going to happen. Perhaps I was just going to be single and have a career that I enjoyed, rather than a satisfying relationship. And it’s not terrible if that’s how my life plays out.

But I obviously want Him in my life.

And the song gives me hope. That I will be spinning my wheels. That I will kiss a lot of frogs before I find my prince. That patience is everything. That focusing less on today and just being aware of myself in the grander scheme will give me a better perspective of how receptive I am to someone walking into my life. I acknowledge how distant I can be and that’s my lesson for today. Stop staring at the ground, stop putting a scowl on my face. Take my headphones out more often. Be open. Be present. Listen and observe. Don’t go into isolation mode. Dwell in the communal.

And to know that I never know when He’s going to enter from stage right (or stage left).

There’s a certain magic to that uknowingness too.

 

‘Havoc’ falls short, not nearly as bright

“Alanis,” I usually respond. I find that I seem to ask the question a lot on first dates, “Which artist or band do you first remember actually paying attention to the lyrics and discovering that music could mean something?” I know, heady first date material. Of course, I get great answers. So when asked in rebuttal, my response is, as mentioned, “Alanis.”

There’s always been something about the lyrical quality of Alanis Morissette’s writing that has felt invasive, permeating my strongly built walls of protection in saying things that I felt, but didn’t have the guts to say or own even internally. But the emotional hooks were put in place and as she began to write about these moments of self-awareness through the lens of her relationships with people, I, too, felt a sense of ownership of not only my feelings, but the reactionary nature of them.

Alanis has been sort of a guidepost for me in terms of life changes. Being a few years older, each album has served as a benchmark of my own evolution, whether it be in terms of relationships (intimate or not), self-care, self-discipline or just awareness of the world outside me. And because this knowledge came as a secondary lesson from the actual story within the songs themselves, they’re completely relatable – whether you got the lesson at the time or not.

There have been plenty of times where I don’t connect with what the song is saying or about and five years later I return to know exactly what the intention was and the place it came from. Again, just a road map of places you’ve been or places you know to watch out for in the future.

However, it seems that perhaps Alanis has taken a turn on the course of life that I am either unable to relate to at the moment or has become more concerned with the lesson giving than the revelation of the lesson itself.

Her new album Havoc and Bright Lights feels like a step backward musically and a fumbled attempt lyrically.

As a new wife and mother, her life has changed in many capacities that I – as a gay man – can no longer relate to. But again, it doesn’t prevent me from trying to lift the lesson out of it.

But perhaps the problem is that it all feels too self-help. And being Alanis, I know going in that it’s going to be heavy on the Debbie Ford psycho babble, which I can abide by up to a certain degree. But the problem with this album is that it’s musically not interesting enough to lift the lyrical components up and it all feels a bit empty as a result.

The moments you can discern Guy Sigsworth’s brilliance are delicious. But then there’s the glossy production of ‘live band’ laid atop Sigsworth’s sonic creations that leaves the songs feeling inconsistent and never truly strong enough to stand on their own for repeat listens.

“Guardian,” the first single, leaves no lasting impression and doesn’t sound new in the catalog of Morissette thus far. “Woman Down,” while more catchy, again feels like something from Feast On Scraps.

“Til You” is one of the few songs I found endearing and fresh. While the sweeping, sonic ballad is nothing new for her, when Alanis does them right – they’re pretty superb.

Then comes “Celebrity,” which is a disjointed affair that attempts to blend too many sounds and flavors in one song. It’s a mashup basically of “Moratorium” and “Would Not Come,” without reaching the level of either.

If it’s not evident that this album is all self-help, the song titles themselves should give it away. Like with “Empathy,” which is a bumbling lyrical mess. This could be a throwaway album track on a Natalie Merchant track from 1999. So it’s not terrible, but it’s not what I expect of Alanis.

“Lens” is probably the most Jagged Little Pill-esque track and has a chorus that is catchy enough to be put on repeat. It’s just another track – like most – that feels like it’s been done before on a previous effort and probably with greater success. The entire album does come across as the pt. 2 of So Called Chaos. For better or worse.

“Spiral” is a non-descript 90s female empowerment type of song that bears no more commentary. “Numb” at least counters it with a more interesting production.

Then there’s the terrible “Havoc,” which any Alanis fan will remember as a song called, “Not All Me,” a melody not that terribly great to begin with.

“Win and win” is another eastern-tinged track that promises something but doesn’t quite rev up enough to deliver. It’s a lilting affair at best, but not one of the worst tracks on the album. “Receive” is another track where I ask myself, “Was I supposed to by an accompanying self-help book in order to relate to this?”

The only other standout track for me on the album is the closing number, “Edge of Evolution,” which clearly has Sigsworth all over it. But it’s also something we’ve never really heard from Alanis before, with this melodic pattern and stuttering drums. Finally we get a slow-build and a chorus that delivers. Many seems to loathe this track and perhaps my attachment to it is because of my love for Flavors of Entanglement, with this track being the closest evolution – so to speak – of that cosmic sound working well with the live band production. My only complaint is that the vocals feel so background to the track itself, as though there isn’t a strong enough lead vocal.

Maybe the lesson here is that my own story is no longer going to mirror any of the storytellers of my youth. That my own narrative is going to be uniquely my own and that the lessons are no longer coming from this faucet. But the ride thus far has been good and perhaps it’s just a matter of time for me to have to come back to have a better appreciation for this sound and the lyrical content.

But until then, I’ll return to one of my favorite tracks that is totally rooted in self-help but somehow blends it into a song that I find completely relatable. And a reminder that it’s always about the journey toward total self-acceptance and being whole:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6kLbDHu0yc

You oughta know.

Yeah, this sums up the kiss-off and the honesty that I finally copped to that you can’t lay waste to someone and then just keep waltzing back in without a care in the world, without any pretense of actually making amends or being aware of the mess you created.

It was time that you knew. And it’s time that you stop being so cavalier with the mess that was left.

However, I’m utterly thankful for the gifts I’ve lifted out of all of this, the phoenix that rose from the ash. I had to be broken in order to be set straight for others. But while I carry that gratitude, I also carry the heaviness of the knowledge you’ll forever affect me. And that’s why I ask for complete disconnection. Because you’re so unaware of how it all affects me and it’s my fault for not saying this sooner.

As I’ve said before, we all play the hero and villain from time to time. It just depends on who gets to tell the story.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EPLb4KYpck