Friday, September 18, 2009

Shuffle play Friday-Songs about superheroes

It's time for another Shuffle Play Friday, my weekly homage to a handful of songs that I’ve discovered, or become reacquainted with over the previous seven day. I try to keep it light, or lighter via these posts.

This week, I was thinking about leadership, and the lack of it wherever you look—locally, at the state level (the two areas where I get to stare this paucity in the face), and following the healthcare debate, it’s quite apparent that the election of Mr. Obama hasn’t done anything to change the corporate stranglehold on power and politics. If you aren’t one of America’s elite powerbrokers, you are SOL and without an advocate for the things that matter to the working or middle classes.

We need Superman in the worst way, but he seems to be unavailable at the moment.

Larry Norman-Reader’s Digest/Only Visiting This Planet

I’ve written about Larry Norman before. This morning, I heard another song that made me thing about this track of Norman’s from a 1973 album.

Norman sang, “It's 1973, I wonder who we're gonna see
Who's in power now? Think I'll turn on my TV,
The man on the news said China's gonna beat us,
We shot all our dreamers, there's no one left to lead us.
We need a solution, we need salvation,
Let's send some people to the moon and gather information.

spoken: They brought back a big bag of rocks.
Only cost thirteen billion. Must be nice rocks.

Things haven’t changed much since 1973 in that while we haven’t had a major leader gunned down recently in the U.S., we still have no one left to lead us.

Who can we call upon, if as Norman sings, we have no one to lead us out of the wilderness.

Crash Test Dummies-Superman's Song/The Ghosts That Haunt Me

I remember when this song first made its way onto the playlist of our local adult ontemporary station, WCLZ. The lyrics painted Superman as a world weary everyman, albeit one with extraordinary powers. It was an interesting twist on the superhero take coming from Hollywood.
Brad Roberts’ signature voice singing the song’s quirky, but outstanding lyrics make one pine for someone with super powers.

Our Lady Peace-Superman Is Dead/Clumsy

Another Canadian band with a song about Superman—is there something in the water supply to the north that promotes songs about superheroes?

I read that the song was making a statement about television, and the influence that it has on children, and the unrealistic expectations that it engenders. The band’s lead singer, Raine Maida hearkened back to the simplicity of the television he remembered—black and white images of the original Superman, and then, he contrasted it with the two popular cartoon morons of the moment, Beavis and Butthead.

The Rosebuds-In The Backyard/Lifelike

One of my favorite online stations that I listen to is KEXP, out of Seattle. This station is a great example of what FM radio should be, a freeform station hearkening back to the days when the FM dial was about unpredictability, and catching music that you weren’t expecting. It’s all so predictable today, by-and-large, as corporations have wrung most of the vitality from the radio band.

Quilty 3000 does a great Sunday afternoon show that I try to catch every week. The KEXP site allows me ease of access of Q3000’s shows as they archive the streams and I usually go back and listen.

I liked this one by Raleigh, North Carolina’s, The Rosebuds, a band I had never heard of before last Sunday. They also happen to be on Merge, which is always a positive endorsement in my book.

Mason Jennings-The Field/Blood of Man

The first Mason Jennings song I ever heard wasn’t played by Jennings, but by my niece’s husband, at the Tarazewich (Mary’s family) Christmas gathering two years ago. He and I had our acoustic guitars out late at night in front of the fireplace, alternating takes on songs we could play. He began picking out the chords to “Forgiveness,” an extremely poignant song about family relationships.

Jennings new album is getting solid reviews and I think I’ll end up picking it up. Jennings plays all the instruments himself, and it represents Jennings stripped down and raw, which is how I like him best. He is also scheduled to play Portland in October, I think.

This particular track is about a soldier in a war far away (Iraq?) who loses his life and the perspective of a parent’s sense of loss and memories that remain. It also touches on the responsibility of our leaders (“If I was the president…”) and how they’ve failed our lost sons and daughters. The father goes out to “the field,” a place that obviously holds meaning according the Jennings, and tries to connect with the disappeared son.

Five more tunes for this week are now in the can, and another SPF is posted for readers that love music. Long live rock!

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