Friday, July 12, 2019

A Window Above: I Can't Hold Back

Song: "I Can't Hold Back"
Writers: Jim Peterik and Frankie Sullivan
Original Release: August 1, 1984
Band: Survivor
Album: Vital Signs

"I Can't Hold Back" is Survivor's best song.  Oh yes, I hear you gasping in astonishment.  "Eye of the Tiger" is a classic of its era, surely the song that will carry the band's legacy from now to the end of time, right?  Yes, probably.  But it's not their best.

A couple especially clever songwriting moments in "I Can't Hold Back":
  1. The pre-chorus, as Peterik himself describes it.  Comes up first at 1:12 in the video.
  2. The bridge folding back into the pre-chorus at 2:19.  Throughout the song, the melody has a Steve Winwood-esque wrap-around feel to it.  That 2:19 point is where I feel it most strongly.

Want to hear all of the songs I have featured in a convenient playlist?

Enjoy: A Window Above

What are you listening to these days?

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Squid Mixes: Frozen Daiquiri

A daiquiri combines lime juice, sugar and rum.  I got my recipe from Eric Felten's How's Your Drink?  I haven't had much luck with frozen drinks in the past but this one turned out nicely.  I expect I've been too skimpy on the ice historically - not a problem this time.

Lime juice and rum!  It'll be the perfect drink to serve Andrew and Susan if they ever come over.

Friday, July 5, 2019

A Window Above: Sailing

Song: "Sailing"
Writer and Original Performer: Christopher Cross
Original Release: December 1979
Album: Christopher Cross

"Sailing" is the soft rock song to end all soft rock songs, a dreamscape anthem for what would eventually come to be known as yacht rock.  It won a ton of Grammys for Christopher Cross before MTV killed his career.  It is ridiculously schmaltzy and yet I find it irresistible.  The orchestral intro melting into the gentle guitar riff... hooks me every time.  

Want to hear all of the songs I have featured in a convenient playlist?

Enjoy: A Window Above

What are you listening to these days?

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Squid Mixes: Tiburon

I got my recipe for a Tiburon from The One-Bottle Cocktail by Maggie Hoffman.  She credits T. Cole Newton of Twelve Mile Limit in New Orleans.  The drink combines tequila, lime juice, honey syrup and a dash of Tobasco with a salted rim and a lime garnish.  I skipped the salt - not a fan.  Tiburón is the Spanish word for shark.

The concept of The One-Bottle Cocktail is wonderful: combine a single, staple spirit with ingredients easily found at the grocery store.  This contrasts with the purist mentality of Robert Simonson's 3-Ingredient Cocktails: spirit, bitters and sweetener.  But while the two writers spar during the imagined dinner party in my brain, I hope my own craft shall benefit.

As with Simonson, I enjoy Hoffman's approach to flavor, though hers is certainly more adventurous.  The Tobasco is the intriguing choice in the Tiburon.  It's a common bar ingredient, of course, as it's essential in a Bloody Mary, though unexpected in a Margarita-like concoction.  She's clear on the limits: no more than a dash or it gets vinegary.  The result is "pretty exciting" in my wife's words.

Friday, June 28, 2019

A Window Above: King of Pain

Song: "King of Pain"
Writer: Sting
Original Release: June 17, 1983
Band: The Police
Album: Synchronicity

Synchronicity came out when I was ten years old.  At the time, I would have claimed "Every Breath You Take" as my favorite track but I think "King of Pain" is the one that has improved with age.  I especially love the marimba part in the beginning.  It was the fifth single off of the album and peaked at #3 on the Billboard charts.

Alanis Morissette:

More Weird Al love this week: "King of Suede":

Want to hear all of the songs I have featured in a convenient playlist?

Enjoy: A Window Above

What are you listening to these days?

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Squid Mixes: Ward Eight

A Ward Eight combines rye, lemon juice, orange juice and grenadine.  I got my recipe from Eric Felten's How Was Your Drink?  It is named for a neighborhood in West End Boston.

This drink is more exciting than the Bronx Cocktail from a couple weeks ago (see here) even though this one could just as easily be described as an OJ with stuff in it.  The "stuff" brings more flavor this time and, of course, proportions matter.  The orange and lemon are in equal parts and the combination definitely has more tang than orange alone. 

Friday, June 21, 2019

A Window Above: Royals

Song: "Royals"
Writers: Ella Yelich-O'Connor and Joel Little
Original Release: June 3, 2013
Original Performer: Lorde
Album: The Love Club EP

"Royals" is one of the best-selling singles of all time: 10 million copies worldwide.  It topped the US charts for nine consecutive weeks.  It is, for my money, the best pop song of the current decade, a triumph of minimalism in an age of sensory overload.  Not bad for an artist's debut release.

Supposedly, Lorde wrote the lyrics in half an hour - ill-making, really.  The title was inspired by a National Geographic photo of George Brett, of all people.  Why a New Zealand teenager would be drawn to a photo of a long-retired American baseball player is a bit of a mystery but whatever works, right?
Image result for george brett national geographic
via National Geographic
"Royals" is one of those songs that was begging for an acapella cover from the get-go.  I threw an arrangement together for my students when we did Macbeth.  They sang it at King Duncan's entrance - worked perfectly.  Wish I'd recorded it but, alas, no.  Fortunately, others have been wiser in preserving their interpretations.

Pentatonix, so good:

Is there anything cooler than Bruce Springsteen covering your song? live? in your hometown?

"Foil" by Weird Al:

Want to hear all of the songs I have featured in a convenient playlist?

Enjoy: A Window Above

What are you listening to these days?