28 August 2005

this is a test

hi all. i'm trying a new format. is this better than opening the music file in a pop-up window?

this, by the way, is definitive beat, by mirwais. kicks ass, doesn't it?

23 August 2005

songs of myself : part three

moments : red house painters
click here to listen. it starts off very softly.
listening time: 7m 52s.

words by mark kozelek
artwork courtesty of eugene smith

gently in these ragged folds
curled up and warm like easter's child
a breath so faint, angelic weight
i can't deny
that i drift sometimes
even in these loving moments
to summery fields i call my own
where i can lie and in them feel
at one with my death
with limbs outstretched
i can't deny
that i'm weak sometimes
even in my strongest moments

19 August 2005

baby one more time : travis

click here to listen
listening time: 3m 30s

this i gotta admit: rock star inxs is one of the few tv programs i come home in time to watch. when news came out last year that the living members of the band were going to do a reality show in search of a new vocalist, i was prepared to thrash it as soon as it aired. the idea of an american idol-type contest for a band i like didn't sit well with me. it turned out that rock star's format isn't far from its pop equivalent, but its contestants, for the most part, don't disappoint, since many of them already are professional musicians. last tuesday's show -- which inxs and co-host dave navarro assigned to be an acoustic night -- was probably the best so far, thanks in large part to two impressive performances: mig ayesa's baby i love your way piano solo, and marty casey's baby one more time.

which is why i'm posting this song. i'm not sure how well-known this version is -- it isn't on itunes music store, but other covers are, like that of fountains of wayne -- but i'm pretty sure this is where marty based his performance. this recording is live and you can hear the audience laughing and the band members facetiously backing up vocalist fran healy, but the band swears the song -- which appears in their sort-of greatest hits album singles -- isn't a tongue-in-cheek cover. "it's a fantastic song if you listen to the lyrics, you know?" drummer neil primrose told launch in 2000. "'my loneliness is killing me' -- all that stuff is pretty obsessive."

whatever. what i do know is that marty isn't right for inxs if they want to replace michael hutchence with someone of similar vocal style. marty is far too dark; i bet he's an alice in chains fan (i am!). plus, he doesn't have the charisma that hutchence had. in fact, none of the contestants do, save perhaps for j.d. fortune. in the end, i doubt the new band line-up will be a hit. but good luck. oh and as an afterthought, a friend asked me what's my favorite inxs song. i went overboard and gave him three, in order: suicide blonde, disappear, and not enough time.

16 August 2005

songs of myself : part two

train in vain (stand by me) : the clash
click here to listen. 3m 12s.

this is the sound of me, happy. i'm someone who's easy to please, and because i'm also easily delighted, it's not hard for me to have a spring in my step. i feel like a self-help-book-reading old woman saying this, but i do take pleasure in the little things around me, which is probably one of the things that keep me sane. here are three that have proven to be reliable sources of occasional joy for me. and when one of these things happen, i feel like doing a fred astaire...with this song by the clash as background music, of course.
  • discovering a good vegetarian meal. i'm putting this on top because i just had one tonight. it's called mjuddrah -- basically a wild-mushroom risotto topped with caramelized shredded onions -- from a greek/middle eastern restaurant called olive. it was the best risotto i've had in ages, and this is saying a lot because despite being a vegetarian for almost two years now, i still hate mushrooms with a passion. 
  • having a nice chat with a stranger. it's funny how this happens more often when you're travelling than in your normal, immediate environment. it's easy to strike a conversation with fellow travelers because you already know that you have something in common. but why does it take a lot of effort to initiate a casual dialogue with someone at the same table in the cafe near your office? or with a fellow elevator passenger? heck, even with someone you know is working on the same floor for the same company! what's wrong with people? haven't we learned from uncle walt? he said: stranger, if you, passing, meet me and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me? and why should i not speak to you?
  • hearing good music for the first time. speaking of middle eastern stuff, you won't believe the physical reaction i exhibited when i first heard rachid taha's yah raya in a record store. thank god it happened in a small shop, with only the shopkeeper as witness, or i would have died in embarrassment. it was the same as when i heard panjabi mc's mundian to bach ke, but at that time i was at a multicultural festival, so dancing was encouraged. (that song, by the way, would later be used and abused by jay-z to become the appalling beware of the boys.) 
what songs do you listen to when you're happy?

13 August 2005

songs of myself : part one

thinking about you : radiohead
click here to listen. 2m 41s.

(apologies to uncle walt. got this idea after re-reading his brilliant song of myself.)

'scuse me for being rude. i've been blogging for about six months now without having even introduced myself. this is my 55th post, all the while remaining pretty much anonymous if not for the couple of recent comments that gave away my name and mother tongue. but how exactly does a blogger introduce himself? in our daily lives, we've come to do it based on predefined identities, quite often based on our profession, our place of origin, our age -- pieces of information that are subordinate to who or what we are. our choice of work says a lot about ourselves, until we realize that deep down we'd really rather be doing something else. the city, state or country we grew up in only confines us to certain stereotypes, and surely each of us is different from the million or billion others with whom we share the same culture? and we all know what age is nuthin' but. stripping away what you do and where you come from, how do you respond to a stranger asking, "tell me something about yourself."

but such is modern society, i guess. after all, it's far easier and more acceptable to say, "hi i'm x, i'm an xx-year-old journalist living in hong kong," than "hi, i'm x. the first song i ever learned was michael jackson's 'one day in your life.' i think i was about three years old. but my musical taste has improved since, i think, though i can't seem to memorize songs that easily anymore." we are our own eccentricities, our million preferences, our vast experiences. we are not the information on our passports or employment forms. so in the interest of unabashed vanity, i'm introducing myself the best way i know: by associating aspects of myself with the songs that have grown with me, and i'm going to start by answering my own question: if you could lay a soundtrack to your ordinary day, what song would it be?

i'd been asking myself this question for a while, and it was only during a long bus ride, listening to my ipod, that i found the one song i'm truly happy with: thinking about you by radiohead. it's not the story of the song (there's nothing about it i can relate with) but its pace, its rhythm, its acoustic simplicity. it's neither fast nor slow, and although it has its high points, it doesn't reach a crescendo. it's short, bittersweet, and it ends on a quiet note. it's my ordinary day. i wake up and drink orange juice, get ready for a 16-hour day, take a scenic ferry ride to work, and go about the rigors of a business journalist. there is nothing too stressful about my work; i even like the intellectual challenge of the stories i write about. lunch is the highlight of my day. i prefer to go alone because i can never make up my mind about what i'd like to eat, but i sometimes take it with my significant other who works nearby. with a view from the 60th floor, all afternoons are beautiful as the sunset turns the horizon to bluish gray, and layers the outside world with silence, or an impression of it. evenings are spent quietly with a magazine, a book, or a television show, and ends with a prayer, a wish, an abstract thought.

lather. rinse. repeat.

what's the soundtrack to your ordinary day?

05 August 2005

back from mexico

august day song : bebel gilberto
click here to listen
listening time: 4m 07s

been back for a couple of days but it's only now that i've (barely) regained the strength to get back to the normal course of things. i am still jetlagged -- the two-stopover flight home took 24 hours -- because i woke up at 1 a.m. and here i am at 5:13 in the morning. at least i have the weekend to catch up on sleep.

here's a bilingual song by the brazilian artist bebel gilberto that i find appropriate to post, given the circumstances. august has just begun, summer is halfway over, and rain will probably be happening more often now, which means sentimental days for the rain-loving me. i have just come from a wonderful holiday, and as holidays often do, it made me wish it would go on and on. i am still dreaming of distant places, which is what the song is about. the chorus and latter verses are in english, the rest is in portuguese. below are excerpts from the english translation, which you will find in its entirety on her website.
August Day Song
(Literal translation by B├ęco Dranoff)

Just like this rainstorm
This August day song
I dream of places far beyond

Hearing the rain fall
A drop here in my foot
I stay alone, so distracted

I am not gonna cry
When remembering
Your eternal glance

I like to sing
And do these things
With you just for a change