30 Day Song Challenge #17

Day 17: a song you’d sing a duet with someone on karaoke.

Brooke Fraser & William Fitzsimmons — You Can Close Your Eyes.

James Taylor’s “You Can Close Your Eyes” is a drop-dead gorgeous little lullaby. (He’s quite good at that. See also “Sweet Baby James” and “Fire and Rain”.) I haven’t got a clue what the words are about, but I love it to pieces nonetheless. It wasn’t written as a duet, but he has performed it as such with Joni Mitchell and Carole King, among others. I went with this cover version here because I like how their voices sound together.

As for karaoke: I’d love to do it sometimes, as I love to sing along with stuff. I can’t sing (or so The Missus keeps telling me), but I don’t really care. And I think I should be just about able to pull this off.

30 Day Song Challenge #16

Day 16: a song that’s a classic favorite.

Grieg: Pianoconcert – Hannes Minnaar – Limburgs Symfonie Orkest olv. Otto Tausk

We have now arrived in the part of the list where the categories aren’t always clear. What is “a classic favorite” exactly? Is it an oldie that I like? Is it a piece of classical music? I don’t know, and because “classic favorite” and day 18’s “favorite from the 1970s” are fairly interchangeable, I am going with something classical.

I am not enough of a classical connoisseur/snob to know much about it, or which performance is the best, or arcane stuff like that, but I do know that I like Grieg, and especially his Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16, and that I was in the audience of this particular recording.

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.