Category Archives: Memories and Nostalgia

We’ve Only Just Begun

Hello again, little earbuds. Once again I’m dreadfully behind on, well, pretty much everything this past week. I recently got the news that not one, but both of my best friends are moving, and that’s thrown me for a bit of a loop. Though neither is moving terribly far (just to the next state over) the news has put me on a roller coaster of emotions. My goal is to keep it together, at least until they leave, because I want to be supportive, but selfishly I’m devastated. These are pretty much the only two people I’ve consistently hung out with for the past five years, and not having them close by (or at least as close as they have been) really, really just flat-out sucks. I see these folks on a daily basis: we talk on the phone, we go to movies, play video games, go shopping, attend concerts, have deep talks, eat long dinners… And all of sudden I won’t have that anymore, at least not every day. It’s been rough, I’ll say that. There were a couple of days filled with tears, but now I’m just focusing on helping them pack and supporting them both as much as I possibly can.

So that explains my tardiness, at least this week. I’m doing better now, though I’m trying to only think of the fun road trips in my future instead of how much I’m going to miss having them close by. Part of keeping it together, is, you guessed it, music. By sheer coincidence I had purchased The Wanted’s self-titled album on a whim just before the news broke. It was a $.99 download special, as was Beach House’s Bloom, so I treated myself to both. I assumed that I would listen to the latter the most because it’s dream pop, which is usually more my speed than mainstream pop. However, I’ve barely given Beach House a listen because I’ve been so enamored with The Wanted. I thought that I would get a couple of fun songs to add to my workout mix, but I never imagined that the entire album would be filled with undeniably uplifting dance tunes. Right now that’s exactly what I need to keep my head above water, so that’s what I’m sharing with you today: The Wanted’s infectious single “Chasing The Sun.”

I kind of figured that my boy band days were over by this point in my life. I mean, sure, I still have some choice ‘N Sync and Backstreet Boys floating around on my iTunes for nostalgia’s sake, but I rarely make it a point to listen to them. When it comes to over-the-top pop I usually go for the divas: Lady Gaga, Rhianna, Madonna, Beyoncé, Katy Perry, and yes, even Britney. However, The Wanted have been a pleasant and welcoming surprise. What I like even better is that I’m not caught up in their looks or their biographies. I could care less who was born where and which one is growing a goatee. Hell, I don’t even know their names. I just enjoy their music, it’s that simple. This song in particular has that great mixture of peppy beats and hopeful lyrics that feeds my soul when I’m down and really in need of cheering up. And that, dear reader, is what I think music is all about.

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I Like American Music Best

Hello and happy Independence Day, little earbuds! I’ll keep today’s entry short and sweet, as I have food to make, family to hang out with, and fireworks to watch. However, I couldn’t let a holiday pass by without adding a musical spin to it. There are ten tons of songs about America, some from Americans, some from other parts of the world. I’ve always been quite partial to David Bowie’s “I’m Afraid Of Americans” because it’s brooding and cool, but I can dance my socks off just as hard to “The Great American Nightmare” by Rob Zombie. Then you’ve got classics such as Don McLean’s “American Pie” and “America” by Simon & Garfunkel, and of course there’s always good ol’ fashioned rock such as Tom Petty’s “American Girl” and “American Woman” by Lenny Kravitz. However, my song of choice on this particular 4th of July is from my childhood, though technically I didn’t hear it until I was a teenager: “American Music” by the Violent Femmes.

I enjoy the Violent Femmes in general, but this song in particular (from the album Why Do Birds Sing?) always makes me feel warm and fuzzy. It’s carefree and jovial, and the lyrics can be a bit nonsensical, but that’s part of the fun of it. I especially love the recreations of various eras of American music depicted in the video. So watch, listen, and enjoy, and I wish you a happy 4th of July!

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I’m Gonna Watch You Shine, Gonna Watch You Grow

This week’s (belated) post is in honor of fathers. Y’know, it’s funny: when it came time to talk about Mother’s Day, I had several songs to choose from that praise moms. However, now that it’s Father’s Day here in the US, I couldn’t find as much selection praising the dads of the world. Apparently to make it in my music library (current song total: 20,973 and counting) you must have some major daddy issues. Almost every song with “father” or “dad” in the title was about pain, resentment, and abandonment. I think that this is a colossal shame, as I know some really amazing fathers. Most notable is my own dad: I am an unabashed daddy’s girl, and I know for a fact that my dad is one of the best people in the whole world. I still look up to him even though I’m (technically) an adult, and I hope that I can be as magical and full of wonder and joy as he is when I get to be his age. He’s one of the funnest people to be around, and every time we hang out we have a blast. Maybe that explains why I never followed my fleeting rock star dreams: I’m too well-adjusted, and I have a great relationship with my father.

If I can get back into songwriting (which I haven’t done in several years, but enjoyed briefly) I’ll certainly make it my goal to write a kick-ass anthem for great dads. Until then, I have at least two songs that always make me think of my father and smile.

It’s hard to go wrong with anything Paul Simon in my book, but this song in particular, “Father and Daughter,” really touched my heart. I remember the first time that I heard it: I was in my car, driving across a bridge, and I heard this song on the radio. I wasn’t paying much attention to it, but then the chorus came on: There could never be a father who loved his daughter more than I love you. Suddenly I was listening intently. I loved the sentiment, and I knew without a shadow of a doubt that’s how my own father felt (and continues to feel) about my sisters and me. Now whenever I hear this song I think of my dad and feel really lucky and really, really loved.

Perhaps it’s unsurprising, given how close I am to my dad, but A Little Princess has always been one of my absolute favourite children’s books. I recall watching the Shirley Temple movie based on the novel and loving it as well, but then Alfonso Cuaron came out with his film version and took my breath away. I can’t watch it without feeling waves of super intense emotions, so when my favourite remix artist, Pogo, came out with this song, “Whisperlude,” based on the movie, I literally sat transfixed in front of my computer screen as tears welled up in my eyes. After that I immediately popped the DVD in and rewatched the whole film, then I went and spent the day with my dad. It’s pretty amazing how Pogo can recreate all of the drama and wonder of a gorgeous and complex film into a remix less than four minutes long. It’s yet another reason why I am in awe of him, and another song to add to my repertoire of feel-good father tunes.

Happy Father’s Day, and thanks to all the great fathers of the world for being awesome!

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Musical Grab Bag: Don’t You Ever Wish For A Pretty Pair Of Wings?

Today, little earbuds, I really don’t have a lot to say. I realize that this is shocking, coming from someone as wordy as myself, but, well, that’s how it is. I’ve downloaded some new music that I haven’t had a chance to absorb yet, the last film that I saw had no remarkable soundtrack to it, and even my beloved anime has left me a bit high and dry in the music department. Hence, I bring you another musical grab bag entry. Today my iTunes decided that I should share a slice of Alabama 90s alt-rock with you, and so I shall do just that via Verbena.

I remember seeing this video for Verbena’s “Baby Got Shot” on MTV (back when they actually, y’know, showed music videos). I loved it instantly and ran right out to purchase their album Into The Pink. After a few listens I found a couple of songs that I liked a decent amount, but none as much as the single that prompted the purchase. This is a great tune that hearkens back to 90s alternative music, when banging on a guitar and growling into a mic was the highest form of rebellion. As this song came out in 1999, it’s also a fitting farewell anthem to the decade of flannel and grunge, Nirvana and Rage Against The Machine, post punk and Doc Martens and hair so long you could sit on it. Now that I think about it, the alternative scene of the 90s had a lot in common with the hippies of the 60s, just a little darker and a little angrier. I know that I, for one, didn’t really appreciate the 90s as I lived through it, wishing fervently that I could have been a teen in the 80s with the Brat Pack and Jennifer Connelly and the sounds of new wave filling my ears. But now, more than a decade later, I can appreciate the 90s for its cultural contributions as well as being the time of my own teenage years. That’s when I discovered 85% of the things that contribute to my personal taste and make me the cool character I am today. And so, farewell, 90s. You are missed, but you will always be remembered, at least by this music fan.

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All Hail The Goddess

In my attempt to make the slated vampire post promised in the last entry the best blog post EVER, I have psyched myself out of writing it for several days, to the point that it is now long overdue. (You’ll understand why once I finally get that sucker posted. And it WILL HAPPEN, by Thor!) Last Tuesday I debated putting it off for another week in order to have a ranty post about The Voice, the reality singing show that was supposed to be so different (and actually kind of was during the first season) but is now as bloated and over-promoted as American Idol could ever dream to be. But honestly, who cares? Tony Lucca didn’t win, meaning I can watch season three if I so feel like it. (I swore that if he won I would never watch another season. I don’t know the guy personally, but between his sh*tty smiles and crappy vocals, the guy just comes off like a douche-wagon. Xtina seemed to be the only coach that realized it, too, so watching her call him out on his mediocre song renditions week after week was amusing.)

Even so, I took too long as I waffled between vampires and reality show rantings, and now it’s Mother’s Day. (Ignore my back-dating for organizational purposes: in the States it is indeed Mother’s Day today.) And I just can’t bring myself to finish writing a post about smexy vampires on Mother’s Day. Not that there aren’t some rad mommas out there who wouldn’t appreciate a nice entry with some bite to it! Mother’s Day, and mothers in general, aren’t all about clichéd flower bouquets, heart lockets, and gift baskets from Bath & Body Works that smell of Sweet Pea and Moonlight Path. (Though there’s nothing wrong with it if that happens to be the stuff that she actually likes.) Mothers come in all shapes and sizes, and have all varieties of preferences and passions. We need to remember that the term “mother” isn’t a blanket statement that automatically explains every facet of a woman’s life. It’s a term for a female caretaker, but it shouldn’t overshadow the individual person upon whom the title is bestowed. Today is the day to honor all the mothers in your life, especially the ones who really excel at the difficult job in question, be it your own mother, your grandmother, your friends who are mothers, or even yourself. I honor my mother, and all mothers, the best way I know how: with music.

Alanis Morissette’s “Heart of the House” has me in tears every time I hear it. I’ll never forget how it showed the rebellious teenage version of me that mothers are people, too.

And I had to include “I’m A Mother!” by The Pretenders, which reminds us all just how badass you have to be to be a mother.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the great moms out there (especially to my own!).

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Every Time You Overdose I Rush To Intensive Care

Hello again, little earbuds. Sorry I’m running a bit behind this week: I got started celebrating Cinco de Mayo early. (By that I mean that I spent yesterday evening cooking Mexican food and hanging out instead of blogging; you thought I meant that I was hungover, right?) Anyway, I had a totally different blog entry I was working on for this week, and it’s still in the works. However, I’ve also been inspired to begin a new writing project. It literally came to me in the night and kept me from sleep early in the a.m. of May first. I love creative projects that take hold of you and won’t let you go until you answer their call. Heaven knows I need an aggressive Muse, otherwise the call of TV, video games, and general internet faff sinks its claws into me and I have massive trouble escaping.

This new writing project is all about a certain quest I’ve had in my life that I’ve now given up on, so I’m exploring what put this fervent desire into my head in the first place. I go on to chronicle the ups and downs, the near successes and inevitable failures I’ve had on this quest. I might publish it online, because maybe some other readers out there will be able to identify with me. Maybe some won’t, but still, it’s something I need to do right now. When the Muse calls, I answer! Well, today, before I began working on the new blog entry, I sat down and wrote about my most recent (and possibly most devastating) failure, the one that shut down the dream factory for me, as it were. I didn’t intend to, but of course I got pretty melancholy as I remembered in painful detail how high my dreams got before they fell crashing and flailing to the depths below. I was writing in silence, and I got so depressed that I had to stop writing and just hit “shuffle” on iTunes to try to drown out the sad memories overtaking my brain. The music was okay, nothing particularly great… and then The Raveonettes just shook me out of my funk completely.

I love this band and I love this song, but for some reason I hadn’t heard it in yons. And then to have it burst forth from my speakers when I was feeling so low, and to be such appropriate music for what I was thinking about, too, was amazing. The situation I was writing about was indeed my “last dance” with this particular dream. I was overdosing on nostalgic bitterness and heartache, and The Raveonettes provided intensive musical care. It’s such a joyful and sweet song, I couldn’t help but feel my spirits lift as I sang along.

So instead of my planned post for this week I decided to bring you yet another true tale of the power of music. When things get crappy, I hope that you have a song or two that you can turn to, dear reader, in order to overcome the crap and get back to feeling awesome again.

Next week: A real-life vampire brought to light! You don’t wanna miss this!

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One Year Later: I Still Wanna Be Adored

Hello again, little earbuds! Hard to believe that a year and a day ago I began this, my first public blog. (I’ve had various personal blogs, kept private save for close friends, on and off for several years.) I’ll admit, there have been times when I’ve debated shutting it all down in order to concentrate on other writings. Besides that, my anime blog, Otaku Haiku, gets many more hits than this one every day. But I think I’ll keep Hot Pink Headphones going for a while yet. I love music so very much that it’s nice to have a wee place to gush about the videos and artists who bring me such joy. And while passions come and passions go, music was one of my first true loves, and I can never stop listening.

There have been so many amazing artists and songs that I’ve discovered in just the past year alone that it would be difficult to name a favourite. BUCK-TICK spring readily to mind as a huge new and vibrant musical love of mine. Since I first heard their sexy opening theme song for Trinity Blood I’ve been completely head-over-heels for this Japanese visual kei band (and especially for Atsushi Sakurai, their enigmatic David-Bowie-as-vampire lead singer). Just last night I was watching (for the billionth time) the video of abingdon boys school in concert covering BUCK-TICK’s “Dress,” and when special guest Atsushi hits the stage, I get chills as though I’m in that audience, too. Come to think of it, anime has introduced me to all sorts of new and wonderful music (158 new artists, to be exact, according to my iTunes library). Writing my Music For Otakus series was definitely lots of fun, and something that I’ll probably expand soon, seeing as how I watch new anime practically every week.

But it’s not all in with the new and out with the old here. I continue to discover new albums by bands I already love as well as re-discover beloved albums from a few years ago (or even a few decades). And seeing those much-loved artists in concert is always a thrill. I went to many great shows last year, but finally seeing Dolly Parton in concert is probably closest to my heart, and a memory that I’ll always treasure. Then there’s all the amazing fan-made videos, such as this one for “Keep You” by Class Actress (which is my current fav-of-all-time-omg-I-can’t-stop-watching-it fan vid). Come to think of it, with so much incredible music to be seen and heard, how could I ever think of stopping this blog?

Today’s video is, in my humble opinion, very fitting for my one-year anniversary. When I first heard the original song by The Stone Roses back in college, my immediate and only thought was, “This is my life’s theme song.” It was so mellow and cool, but never pleading; the lyrics were a demand, not a request. To this day it remains an important and beloved addition to my musical library. However, just a couple of years ago, one of my favourite modern bands, The Raveonettes, covered the song. The Danish indie rock duo made something already amazing into a dreamy fuzz-fueled haze of musical bliss. To top it all off, if the excellent video doesn’t make you want to hang out with your grandmother or even just have a picnic and lie in the grass, nothing else will. And on that note, I give you The Raveonettes’s version of “I Wanna Be Adored.”

Thank you to any and all little earbuds for reading, and thanks for listening and sharing in these great tunes with me.

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My Family Tree’s Losing All Its Leaves

I’ve been rather behind with my blogging lately. It’s kind of a tough time for my family right now. We’re dealing with the death of a beloved family member for the second time in less than two months, and though both were relatively old, it never gets easier. Tomorrow is the funeral. I’ve been okay as long as I don’t think about it, but I fear that I’ll lose it completely when I enter the funeral parlor. There are some people you’re just never ready to see lying motionless in a box. I’m not really sure how I can help, so I’ve just been listening to a lot of music lately and mulling over things. In honor of my Uncle Bill, today’s song is about losing someone you love: Arcade Fire’s “In The Backseat.”

This fan-made video is simple but provides nice visuals to compliment a song that begins rather simply itself, then crescendos into something brilliant and powerful. The lyrics are open to interpretation, but I’ve always taken away a very distinctive message from it.

I like the peace
In the backseat
I don’t have to drive
I don’t have to speak
I can watch the countryside
And I can fall asleep

My family tree’s
Losing all its leaves
Crashing towards the driver’s seat
The lightning bolt made enough heat
To melt the street beneath your feet

Alice died
In the night
I’ve been learning to drive
My whole life
I’ve been learning

When you ride in the backseat, you’re a child, or like one: depending on someone else to drive, someone else to make the decisions. You just coast along and enjoy the scenery, never having to worry about car crashes or traffic or anything of the sort. But when you learn to drive, you learn to take responsibility for yourself as well as for anyone else in the car with you. When you are the driver, you have to navigate life and death in a very literal way. I feel that this song references the childlike state of ignorant bliss before you lose someone you love, when you and everyone around you will seemingly live forever. Suddenly, when someone you love dies, death and its aftermath become very real, very quickly. You can’t experience the pain of losing someone and remain that child, sitting innocently in the backseat. You have to become an adult and deal with grief, pain, decisions, and consequences. That’s what this song is about, to me: learning to grow up through loss.

I read that the reason Arcade Fire named this album Funeral was because of the band members losing beloved family members themselves as they were creating it. This song can be melancholy, true, but very beautiful, and especially moving for those who have experienced the loss of a loved one. I went through that experience of losing some of my childlike innocence when my grandfather died in 2006, and now that I’m once again attending a family member’s funeral, I find that it never gets any easier. But songs like this help. Knowing that we all go through this at one point or another is a comfort, if a cold one at times.

R.I.P., Uncle Bill. You will be remembered, and you will be missed.

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The Lovers, The Dreamers, And Me

Due to NaNoWriMo I got behind on my trips to the cinema, but last weekend I finally made it out to see my first film of 2012, The Muppets. I was so glad that I took the time to see it in the theatre, because it brought back so many great memories of being young and loving Kermit, Gonzo, and Miss Piggy. Yet thanks to the numerous star cameos and song numbers, it was the same Muppets that we all know and love, but updated for a modern 2012 audience. They even included a fresh version of the classic Kermit ballad “The Rainbow Connection,” which was originally from the first Muppet film, The Muppet Movie.

I’d forgotten how poignant and amazing this song is until I saw it performed again in the movie. It was nominated for an Academy Award in 1979, which was also the year that I was born, so I have literally had the Muppets in my life throughout my entire life. The most recent Muppet movie made me think yet again about how much I miss Jim Henson. His creative, innovative, and distinctive work plays a role in every film and television show that was wonderful from my childhood.

From Sesame Street to The Muppet Show to two movies that remain in my top ten films of all time, The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, his stories and creatures remind me of everything awe-inspiring that I, as an adult writer, try to recreate in my work today. I try to write stories that are inclusive of everyone, and magical, and innocent, and full of wonder. Tall order, I know, but that’s what Jim did, and if I can manage to impart to the world even a fourth of what Henson instilled in my own life, I’ll consider myself a blazing success. Listening to “The Rainbow Connection” is the same feeling I get when I pet my cats, or hang out with my dad, or visit Disney World with my family: those hopeful, joyous times.

Anime gives me some of that magic, as do many of the musical artists that I’ve found over the years. But I’ll always come back to Jim Henson whenever I need to remember what it is that I’m doing and what message I’m trying to share with the world. Jim Henson read my heart, and the best way that I know how to honor his visionary art is to share my heart with the world.

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The Closing Of The Year

Hello again, little earbuds. I hope that you’re having/have had a lovely holiday season. I wish that I had something more profound to say at the close of the year, but if you’re looking for something like that, try The Procrastinator’s Project Journal. I was feeling more thoughtful when I last updated that one. Right now I’m just enjoying my Christmas presents and looking forward to spending the weekend with my family, which is even better, in my opinion! So today is a flashback video entry, and one that I think is very appropriate for the last week of 2011.

Toys was such an odd little movie that it really stuck out in my mind, and I have very vivid recollections of watching it when I was a child. I don’t even remember what possessed me to purchase the soundtrack, but I did, and I listened to it over and over and over again. Truth be told, the movie freaked me out a bit and made me sad, but the soundtrack was completely enchanting. I have found the music to hold up well over the years, and every now and then I just get a hankering to listen to the Grace Jones, Thomas Dolby, or Enya tracks. But this song, “The Closing of the Year,” by Lisa & Wendy, captivated me from the very first time that I heard it. In thinking back, it might have been the catalyst for me purchasing the soundtrack.

Just now as I listen to the song for this entry, the part when all the instruments kick in and the voices sing, “aaaaaaaAAAAAAAA” literally makes me feel like someone just poured warm water inside my chest, and it trickles down throughout my torso. I began singing along and was amazed that even though I haven’t listened to this song in several years, I remember all of the words. It just made that much of an impact on me. When I looked it up on YouTube, I didn’t even know there was an official music video for it! Wendy and Lisa are rockin’ their early 90s hair and leather pants amidst those creepy toys. And Seal has a cameo! And he’s wearing a feather-plumed top hat! This video, and this song, are all kinds of wonderful, especially for the way it makes me feel perfectly, completely happy.

And so I wish you a joyful closing of the year, little earbuds! May the new year shine brightly for us all.

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