Sunday, September 22, 2013

Of Mumford and Sons and Music in General

Music has always been a integral part of my life.  For as long as I can remember I have loved music in a variety of forms, most rap being the exception.  My high and lows can all be tied to a song or songs.  

My first love:  "I Melt With You" by Modern English and "Alive and Kicking" by Simple Minds.

My divorce:  "How's It Gonna Be" by Third Eye Blind and "Fields of Gold" by Sting

My totally dysfunctional rebound:  "One Headlight" by The Wallflowers

Someone:  "Inside Out" by Eve 6 and one to be later named maybe...

Sure these songs are wrapped around memories, both good and bad.  To this day, I find myself holding my breath when I Melt With You or Alive and Kicking are occasionally played on the air. Memories float around.  I can't say that these songs are lyrically powerful or anything other than the pop music of the day, but I still enjoy them for the emotional ties.

There is such a void of good music these days.  I'm talking about the music that endures the test of time, not today's poppy, crunchy, lyrically bereft, albeit catchy tuned drivel that passes as music.  Yes, I am sure the generations before me have said the same thing about "my" music.  Do I think the likes of Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus will be heard on the air 20 years from now?  One can hope not.  

But then along come a band that is so different from the norm. You realize there is really amazing music, enduring music if you care to search.  It's the music that invades my heart.  It is as though the songwriter entered my soul and penned his/her music for me.  It's beyond just enjoying a particular song or a band. Not sure how to describe it.  Maybe it's like being one with the music.  

There has been one band that has accomplished that feat. U2. Need I say more?  14 albums between 1980 and 2009, of which I own 9.  There was a time that they became a caricature of their larger than life personas around the release of Zooropa (1993). In 2001 they achieved redemption, if only for an album, with All That You Can't Leave Behind.  

But I digress.  This post was to be about the beauty that is Mumford and Sons.  I was lucky enough to get pre-sale notice for their original show in June.  Alas, Ted had a medical emergency and the show was rescheduled for September 18th.  I was heartbroken since I was to have been in India.  As there is a greater plan for everything, the trip was cancelled and I wouldn't miss Mumford after all.

I had heard of Mumford and Sons, but I had not truly listened to them. Yes, I knew they were Grammy winners. Then it happened, one day Little Lion Man graced the speakers in my car and I really listened.  I was hooked.  Mesmerized by that one song.

Little Lion Man started a renewal of my love affair with music. I had to purchase Sigh No More and to be honest, it was the best $14 I've spend in a long long time. It's been a while since I have purchased a CD where every song is well written and you can understand the depth, the meaning, the heart of the lyrics.  I would have worn out the CD but along came Babel. 

Finally!  A new band that leaves me musically speechless.  When you stop to listen to their lyrics, you are immersed in a band that speaks to deep spiritual themes. Sure the masses will not realize it and/or will probably gloss over it.  They, in no way, promote themselves as any sort of God-centered band or believers.

On the surface, to the casual listener, they are a catchy, cool, retro, folk vibe band...banjo, mandolin, guitar, keyboard, stringed bass, and a killer kick bass drum...but deep down, where it matters, they speak of deep truths. Blending the temporal and eternal within lyrics in which is woven the themes of grace, unconditional love, and the hope of eternal love/life.  It's there when you listen with the heart.   

Now to circle back to the beginning of the post. The other song that makes me think of someone is Ghosts That We Knew.  While it has not received any airplay locally, it is by far my favorite song on either album.  It is such a heartachingly, beautiful love song.  It squeezes my heart when I heard it the first time and it induces tears right now. I was crying when they played it.  Marcus' voice is so haunting and melodic, and there is such an ethereal quality to this song when he sings it.  It hit hard, because someone knew the ghosts and saw the pain and still loved, even if it was a brief moment.

Apologies that I did not get the entire song. This will have to suffice, but the entirety remains etched in my psyche.

September 18, 2013, while sweating outside with thousands of other unknown fans and my bestie, I enjoyed the show.  I have such an unexplained crush on Marcus Mumford.  Maybe it's his lyric writing, or his musical abilities, or perhaps his nearly flawless voice while singing live.  There is something about him that holds me in awe.  They are as good live as they are on their CDs, raw, vital, and powerful. Their quick acoustic set was just dreamy, all quiet, wispy and wonderful.

For me, Mumford and Sons are modern day poets of olden times. Craftsmen whose lyrics resonate and musicianship dominates the mass-produced, teenybopper flotsam that is called "awesome music" today.  They are to the decade of the 2010s what U2 was for the 1980s.  For me, there is nothing better.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

The Escalator Paradigm

Had an interesting conversation coming into the building the other day. Co-worker and I came up the elevator and got to the doors at the same time a couple of men did. There is a button to open the doors for folks that need assistance. We all arrived at the same time but the men graciously waited for us to hit the button and allowed us to walk in first.

The amusing part of this is the fact that we all waited for the door to open on it's own. The men could have simply opened for us, but I have observed that many guys have no idea how to open a door for a woman any more. But that's another post for another day.

So the discussion, upon walking in the door, was with one of the guys. We were joking about standing there waiting for the door to open and the comment was made that they could have grabbed the handle, but how that would be too easy. The general consensus is that we've become lazy.

Escalators are a prime example of that. In the elevator, going up to our respective floors, we had a good laugh about what happens when escalators fail. Have you ever noticed that when they stop, people will actually walk away from an escalator? Seriously. As if walking down or up the escalator is a horrible task. However, the beauty of a broken escalator is automatic stairs. What to do, what to do...a broken escalator...wait, I think I'll take the elevator.

Please note, when a escalator breaks, you don't have to call the fire department. You clear the equipment and unlock it and voila! Yes, being rescued from a stopped elevator by a hottie fireman has its advantages, but the thought of being enclosed in that small box strung up by cables strikes a certain amount of fear into my heart.

Maybe it would just be simpler to stay in ground level establishments.