Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The fox says a thousand words per frame ("The Big Country")

Turning from the fox, I'm looking at an epic western song - not an epic western remix, but an epic western original.

Last month I wrote one of my wandering posts that touched on everything from a Star Trek encounter with pure energy to the Talking Heads song "The Big Country."

While the primary emphasis of the Talking Heads song is the urban protagonist's negative reaction to middle America (David Byrne himself would come to love middle America by the time of "True Stories"), a secondary theme within the song is the fact that the United States is...a big country.

Patrick J. Fox's video emphasizes the latter aspect of the song.

The visuals are derived from one of the last verses of the song.

I'm tired of looking out the windows of the airplane
I'm tired of traveling, I want to be somewhere.

Or, as Patrick J. Fox himself put it:

VIDEO MADE for 1979 song The Big Country from the LP More Songs About Buildings and Food - made on flight from New York when landing in New Orleans - shot whilst listening to the song by happenstance on iPod Shuffle on September 11, 2007. True Story. Px.

I can relate to this right now, because my family is hosting a foreign exchange student. While her home country is, in its own way, a big country, geographically it's nothing like the United States.

And the exchange student has certainly seen her share of airplanes in the past year. First she had to get to the United States from her home country. After arriving here, she has taken plane trips to San Francisco, Dallas/Fort Worth, and Honolulu. She's certainly seen her share of farmlands - and, in the case of the Hawaii trip, water.

But all of those airplane rides did not prepare her for her next trip - a trip across the United States.

Not by plane.

By train.

This 2011 video is a 15 minute condensed version of a cross-country trip. An actual cross-country trip takes much longer.

All aboard!

Ylvis has left the building - I mean the Minnesota forest

When I read the headline to this story - "Forest-Plan Opponents Point to Wolf, Lynx & Bat" - I was immediately moved to ask myself three questions:

1. What does the wolf say?
2. What does the lynx say?
3. What does the bat say?

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Jolene - an epic remake

Dolly Parton - singer, songwriter, actress, Walt Disney wannabe. Clearly a woman with at least double the talent of many of her peers.

But I feel sorry for those who primarily know Parton from one of three sources.

First, I feel sorry for those who know her as the songwriter for Whitney Houston's megahit "I Will Always Love You." Houston's performance is triumphant, (I'll explain later.) To put it bluntly, it's LOUD - nowhere near the understated, quiet, wistful original.

Second, I feel sorry for those who know her from her "Islands in the Stream" duet. No issue with the song - it's a good song. Which it should be, since the Gibb brothers wrote it. Kenny and Dolly did it well, but you could have had Barry Gibb and Barbra Streisand perform it and it would have done just as well.

This time period brings up the third - Dolly's solo hit "9 to 5." It's a rollicking good song that ties in well with the movie, but it's not the best thing that Dolly has ever done.

That honor is reserved for her early 1970s song "Jolene." Miles away from modern country, and much closer to Parton's bluegrass roots, "Jolene" was much more restrained than anything Whitney Houston ever did. Lyrically, the song also explored some rocky territory:

“Jolene” was a song about insecurity, fear, and jealousy....“Jolene” was a brooding, minor key tune that used repetitive language to emphasize the narrator’s anxiety.

Reportedly inspired by a tall redheaded bank clerk who seemed a bit too nice to her husband, Dolly spun her feelings about that largely innocuous situation into a dramatic lyric that took the form of a plea:

It's one of the most haunting country songs you'll ever hear. With the sparse background, Parton's quiet, pleading voice stands out prominently.

Now, fast forward.

Brazen (and Fonzerelli) are names used by British DJ Aaron McClelland. His Wikipedia biography is here. Singer Ellenyi (more commonly known today as Georgia Harrup) entered the Ibiza scene to collaborate with McClelland to create this rather unrestrained version of Parton's classic.

A version that works magnificently. Harrup isn't sitting in a holler near Pigeon Forge, and the "epic western" sounds can't be played on a dulcimer and fiddle, but the feelings in the lyrics are universal.

No idea what Parton thinks of the remake, but she always said nice things about Whitney Houston, so I'm sure she likes Brazen's take.

Or at least the royalties from same.