30 Day Song Challenge #15

Day 15: a song you like that’s a cover by another artist.

As the great philosopher Jon Bon Jovi once said, “Whoa, we’re halfway there.”

Wende — Au suivant (Jacques Brel cover)

I like me some covers. Whether they’re stripped down acoustic versions of hiphop tunes I would usually ignore, plain gorgeous takes on songs I didn’t know in the first place, translations, just done for the heck of it, or left-field versions of songs I know pretty well. And then you have artists/interpreters like Dusty Springfield and Aretha Franklin, songwriters like Carole King who ‘cover’ their own work after they’ve given it to someone else first, or Jim Steinman, who isn’t above cannibalizing his songs and/or giving them another go.

But according to my Last.fm stats, the cover I have listened to most is Wende’s cover of Jacques Brel’s “Au suivant”. The live version embedded above is the most powerful one I’ve seen, but while looking that one up, I also found the version that made me fall for her in the first place. My French isn’t what it used to be, but when I heard that, I believed every word.

First Lines: Turtles All the Way Down

For weeks now I have been trying to find the right words to express my thoughts on John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down. I hereby declare myself defeated, and go with what I have:

With Turtles All the Way Down John Green managed to write a book that is not The Fault in Our Stars Part Two, but one that despite having all the familiar John-Greenisms, is still its own thing. And I am glad it is.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved this book. But I have a weakness for leading characters who have to deal with stuff (in this case, OCD), other than the plot-related stuff the author throws upon them (a missing person, a friend from days gone by and the feelings that come with him, friends who love you but hold a mirror up in your face), and snappy, quotable writing like

“Does it hurt?” he asked.
For some reason, I wanted to tell him the truth. “Whether it hurts is kind of irrelevant.”
“That’s a pretty good life motto,” he said.

Book read
John Green — Turtles All the Way Down
First Line
At the time I first realized I might be fictional, my weekdays were spent at a publicly funded institution on the north side of Indianapolis called White River High School, where I was required to eat lunch at a particular time — between 12:37 P.M. and 1:14 P.M. — by forces so much larger than myself that I couldn’t even begin to identify them.

30 Day Song Challenge #14

Day 14: a song you’d love to be played at your wedding.

Claudia de Breij — Mag ik dan bij jou

There’s a thin line between being emotionally invested in what you’re singing, and drenching it in pathos. Covers of Claudia de Breij’s “Mag ik dan bij jou” almost always cross that line. Which, is understandable. It is a beautiful little song, which would have been totally unremarkable if not for the lyrics.

It is a series of hypotheticals: if we end up in a war, and if somehow I then need to hide; when a little group of people emerges which I don’t want to belong to; if there is new rule enacted which I cannot meet — if any of that happens, it asks, well, may I then stay with you?

Imagine how easy it must be to take that way too far. And then, then this song instantly unravels into an unlistenable, saccharine parody of itself.

April 1st, 2014. We’re waiting for the wedding guests to arrive, and this song comes on. I know it is a pretty song, I heard it a gazillion times already, and then at the end of the second verse, I am a blubbering mess.

Als de liefde komt,
En ik weet het zeker,
Mag ik dan bij jou?

Goshdarnit, het mocht.

30 Day Song Challenge #13

Day 13: a song from the year you were born.

Bruce Springsteen — Point Blank

Happy birthday to me.

Black Sabbath’s “Heaven and Hell” was a shoe-in for this category, until I realized that Bruce Springsteen’s The River also was released in 1980. Sure, “Point Blank” had been around for a couple of years by then, but those earlier live versions do not have the same magic the album version has.

30 Day Song Challenge #12

Day 12: a song from your preteen years.

Kinderen voor Kinderen — Ik ben toch zeker Sinterklaas niet

As a kid, I was totally not that into music. The only things I can clearly remember listening to were typical kiddie-things like Kinderen voor Kinderen and Ministars.

“Ik ben toch zeker Sinterklaas niet” is a stone-cold classic. Written by Henk & Henk of Het Goede Doel and featuring Edwin ‘Ome Willem’ Rutten (two 1980s institutes in The Netherlands), there is little that could go wrong. And the lyrics are spot on as well. The kids sing about what they want: a little brother, a beautiful red bike, a very large teddy bear, a racing track, a new box of magic tricks, a walkmen (hey, very cromulent wish at the time), a diary with a lock, a turbocompactdiscodrive, a computer and a homework making machine. Little things, really, but their father always gets mad. He starts to turns red, and then he turns redder until he almost explodes: surely he ain’t Santa Clause (paraphrasing here), he does not have a money tree out back but a negative fortune. When banknotes start growing on his back, you’ll be the first to know. See you then.

Years later, Kinderen tegen Kinderen made an awesome mashup with Rammstein and Rage Against the Machine.