Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah everyone! I'm posting a track from my new album each week until the official release of "Held Momentarily" on January 20, 2015. If you haven't already, check out the promotional video for the album on youtube (or here).
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"Vulnerary Love" is the seventh song on the album. This was the first song I wrote for Jeanne--back in 2010. The song was further inspired by a word-of-the-day entry I'd seen for the word "vulnerary". Used heavily in the 1800's, and not much now, the word means "used for or useful in healing wounds". As a songwriter, many times people will offer up "Oh, that would be a great song title". You can see now that my idea of what makes a good song title is wildly different than what most would consider good. This was the second song I produced and recorded for this album. The recording features Lior Magal on bass, and was also mixed by Lior.
006: Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On (1971)
I have listened to this album before, but it had been a while.
To get some context, I watched a documentary from the American Masters series about Marvin Gaye.
I found Marvin Gaye's story to be an complex and inspiring, if cautionary, tale. If you don't know his story, I encourage you to watch.
He pushed through resistance from Motown to move away from his love-song-dense past work. He was struggling with depression and drug dependency. He wanted to reflect the world as he felt it was at the time.
Listening to the album now, it doesn't seem much has changed. I wonder what the album would feel like if he worked on it now. I sincerely hope someone is picking up his torch with half of the talent he possessed.
One of the more interesting things about this album is that it is structured like a song-cycle. I've also seen it referred to as a quasi-classical suite. Basically, most of the album blends from one song to the next. I'm still on the fence about whether I like this effect. It certainly makes the album seem more cohesive--but I wonder if it's not too much so. Again, perhaps it aggravates our modern ADD for it to all stay in a similar groove for so long. The album is only 35 minutes, but without that breathing room between songs, it seems much longer. Especially because he is tackling some major themes.
From the documentary, I learned that Marvin Gaye was an incredibly personal lyricist. He inserted his humanity and vulnerability into his songs. I had listened to his "Here, My Dear" album about 15 years ago, but know that I would find more to relate to in the album now given my own, ahem, maturity. That album is part of my blog project for next year.
The three singles gave Gaye three #1 singles on the R&B chart, a first at the time: What's Going On, Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology), and Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler). I love these songs, and also Flyin' High (In The Friendly Sky) for its fierce introspection (and perhaps confession). Also I love his spiritual exploration and exhortation on Wholy Holy.
005: The Beatles – Rubber Soul (1965)
I had never heard this album before--though I had heard a few of the songs. As with the previous Beatles' albums, I almost immediately loved this album--with one exception (more on that later).
What is it about their records that are so inherently likable? I came across an article recently about an online group that claims The Beatles were actually much more than 4 (or 5, counting George Martin) people. I can certainly understand that wish. If these guys were that good, what does that say about the rest of us. I understand it, but really love having such a lofty goal to aspire to.
This is their 6th album, the second album that featured their own songs, and the first that hinted at a new, post-Beatlemania artistic direction.
I really love McCartney's moody and sweet "Michelle", and also Lennon's "Girl". "In My Life" has been heard many, many times, and yet its sustaining beauty is undeniable.
Run For Your Life is the album closer, and it almost spoils the whole album for me every time I hear it.
I'd rather see you dead, little girl, than to be with another man
You better run for your life if you can, little girl
Hide your head in the sand little girl
Catch you with another man
That's the end ah little girl
That's some misogynist sh!t right there. Apparently John Lennon later claimed that this was his least favorite Beatles song, and he regretted writing it. I hated that first line when I heard it on the Elvis song "Baby, Let's Play House". I overlooked Elvis's song because it was released in the 50's (thinking it was of its time)...but I have always thought Lennon (and the mid-60's in general) was far more evolved than this. How naive of me, knowing now how long change really takes.
I have a renewed interest in Marvin Gaye from this album--though I didn't love this album per se. I understand its importance, and think there are some beautiful songs here--not to mention an unprecedented artistic risk and reward. Perhaps, given more time, its genius will continue to reveal itself to me.
While I love Rubber Soul, I couldn't say I liked it more than The White Album or Please, Please Me (or even Abbey Road). I do like it very much though.
I guess we're at a point in the list where I'm thinking the albums are ranked so highly they're supposed to instantly change your life. Again, change doesn't work that way.
004: Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited (1965) 003: The Beatles – Revolver (1966)
Want to listen ahead, or see some posts you may have missed? Check out the full list of the 100 Greatest Albums here.