Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hook, Line, and Chorus

      You listen to music.  I listen to music.  But I will admit that I don't always listen to it as deeply as some people, but I still listen to it.  There are many songs on my many playlists that I have come to love because of their lyrics, or maybe because of the way the music wraps around everything, or whatever.  But it's rare that I fall for the big hook, the sell-out for mega-cash money sort of songs that everyone seems to go for.  This is illustrated well by the Nickelback phenomenon.  Sue Too is super excited to go to see Nickelback in March, and that's fine.  I am glad she's excited.  And I will admit that a long time ago, when they first came out with their first album, I saw Nickelback open for Everclear.  Wonderful.  But I wouldn't be caught dead at one of their concerts now.  Because I am on to them and their music just doesn't do it for me anymore.  I don't fall for their tricks because I rarely fall for the big hook that leaves everyone screaming.  But lately, the last few days, I am not so sure anymore.  I've been falling for songs like a summer camper falling for the teenager who is in charge of the girls' cabin.
     Oh my it's true, and it's a little maddening.  One by one by one they have come down the line and just swept me in and eaten me up.  I go through these intense periods when I cannot stop listening to a certain song, album, whatever.  It's an addiction and it makes me sick with myself.  The sad thing is that I have no shame.  I tell everyone about my little tawdry affairs, and sometimes I blast the news not so much from the mountain but certainly from the speakers of my car.  And I will name names.  I am more than happy to kiss and tell.
      It began I think, with Jimmy Eat World.  Their album Chase This Light is pretty much in permanent heavy rotation in my car's CD player, which sadly is just about the only place I still listen to CD's.  But something like three-quarters of the songs on that album have me hook, line, and chorus.  You know exactly what I am talking about.  Even to this day, over a year since I first laid down $15 or whatever for me I still get excited when I see that lime green disc lying about or moving towards my Pioneer.  I can sing along to just about every song word for word, pause for pause, but I probably couldn't sing it to you right now.  That's the mark of a good album.  Because it's Italicnot like I sat down with the CD cover and made a concerted effort to learn all the words.  It just sort of happened.  So it's not something I can just recall, it's just a part of me that each song stirs.  Now that's cool.
     I have had a long affair with JEW and it still continues today.  But recently I also started seeing Carolina Liar on the side.  They came out with an album called Coming to Terms that I have been coming to terms with for a few months now.  It actually began as a love/hate relationship, in that I mean I loved some of the songs and hated some of the others.  But then a funny thing began to happen.  The more that disc spun in my CD player the more I came to tolerate and even respect the songs I had used to hate.  It's amazing what happens when you give something a chance, isn't it?  It's like when your best friend starts dating this guy that you hate.  All your other friends hate him too.  But eventually you have to give him a chance for the sake of your friendship and so you do, and the more he's around and the more you hang out with him the more you come to like him.  You might not be best friends - you might not call him up to hang out just on your own - but you forge this working relationship and begrudging respect for one another.  And so it goes with me an Carolina Liar.  I don't do a whole lot of fast forwarding anymore, I just take the "crappy" songs for what they are and move on.  On to the songs that I just can't get enough of.  That is until Cath comes along...
     I have never been the biggest fan of Death Cab for Cutie.  I mean, one will find "Soul Meets Body" on my iTunes but that's about the maximum extent of it.  But when I first heard "Cath..." I was in love.  Desperately in love.  There was not a minute of the day when that tune wasn't on my mind or in my speakers.  Just mentioning the name right now causes it to start in my mind.  And now I've started it on my iTunes so I can listen to it while I type out my thoughts about it.  How crazy is that?  But I love it.  I love what the singer is saying, I love the way he is saying it, and I love the melodies that accompany him.  It's just an all around amazing package that leaves me singing in the shower, which is an impressive feat for a basically emo song.  I had a deep, all consuming passion for Cath and everything to do with her.  Until Keane came along that is.
     The band Keane released Perfect Symmetry, their third major label album in the United States, and I asked for it for Christmas.  That's how it all began.  Me being me, it sat unopened on a table until last week, when it was opened and I decided I would make an effort to hear it through.  From the moment the first major chord stomped down upon me with both feet I was hooked like a hapless perch on a tip-up during ice fishing season.  You want to talk about a big musical hook having the desired effect, well this is it.  From the moment that first big sweeping chord dropped on me from the sky I was transported through a musical dream ride of crazy combinations of instruments and totally fresh and addictive melodies.  Oh my, it's bad.  I've got it bad for Perfect Symmetry.  I am so far beyond head over heels it's not even close to funny.  I just cannot get enough.  I will give you one guess as to what played after "Cath..." was done.  Yeah, that's right. 
     So the moral of the whole long story is that I've been falling for some big hooks coming from unsuspected lines.  I don't know why.  Maybe I am just in the mood for a good tune.  Maybe the music people are making is getting better.  I don't really know.  And I don't really care.  See, it doesn't matter to the fish why they are hooked on the line.  Once they are being lugged around by the mouth or gills it's a whole different ball game.  They don't remember or particularly care about the delicious night crawler that first lured them in, they just care that they are hooked and are dealing with how to get unhooked.  And so it is with me.  Although I am not quite ready to be unhooked.  As soon as we are done here I think I am going to go ahead and put all the stuff I just talked about into one mega-blowout playlist.  Then, tomorrow, the authorities and emergency responders and nice men in white jackets will have to pick me up and take me away.  And I will be happy as a clam.  That's what happens when you are caught by the music; hook, line, and chorus.

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