Sunday, November 29, 2009

Long-Awaited Review

I should have written this a very long time ago. When I discovered and listened to it. It was that amazing.

A long time ago, when I was around ten or twelve, in that sort of pre-teen state, I would be at my grandparents (my paternal grandparents)  with my all younger cousins. They're all younger than me except one of them, a girl who was about nine months older than me. Sometimes we're the same age, usually during the summer. But that's just a number.

Anyway, at that time, whenever I'd be there, after dinner all of them would all run down to the basement. They'd goof around, be wacky, everything. And almost always, they'd turn on the synthesizer on. While going crazy, one would always type in '00' in the number key, as the piano had synthesized versions of songs on it. Quite a bit, actually. Number 00 was a song by the BeeGees - Not 'Stayin' Alive,' but 'How Deep is your Love.'

I guess '00' was an easy number to input. I don't think the children that was my cousins back then had any sort of affinity with the song. Rather, I think, at first '00' was easy to select, then as they kept hitting it all the time, the tune became familiar and almost signature-like as they always played it while going nuts. 

One night, I was down there by myself. I'd decided to look at the list of songs (a long list) and see what interested me instead of the signature track by the BeeGees. I tried a song called 'Another Day in Paradise." I'd never heard of it before nor knew who did it. I just knew that reading the title put a nice image in my head - looking up at a palm tree to my right, with a late afternoon sky, the sun going down, sort of. I forget what number it was, maybe 14, and hit 'play.'

The synth version of the song almost blew me away. The keyboards and bass in the version evoked almost the exact image I'd thought of when I'd read the title. It sounded forlorn and wanting. Kind of sad. I still saw a sort of bright yellow with light blue. Like I was looking at the sun going down, with blue included, flowing at the bottom of the scene sort of. Not like water though.

I rarely played it when anyone was around in the basement. I showed it to Nelson, my younger half-brother. He didn't really get much from the song. I think he was too young at the time.

I forgot about it for awhile after until this summer, while writing my journal (which I must do). I'd written a sentence about how boring summer was turning out. The title just popped into my head because it was appropiate. I'd written "...for now I have to keep busy for these summer days. To some people, they're just 'another day in paradise.' While I like the song, I don't find it particularly true in reality. But oh well."

Right after that I suddenly got an idea to actually figure out what that song was, what it was about and who did it, etc. I went straight to Wikipedia and found it. I figured out that it was a song from late 1989 by Phil Collins. The guy who played drums? I'd known Phil Collins from my mother's constant playing of 'In the Air Tonight.' The first I'd ever heard of him, even before that (or before I realized he did 'In the Air Tonight') was when it was said in a commercial about the movie Tarzan that the music was sung by Phil Collins. When I was about nine or ten or whenever that movie came out, when I was much younger. Eventually through time I'd heard a few songs by him on the radio, stuff I never really took much of a liking to. Not a singer I took much of a liking to, but I knew about him. I knew he played drums and sang.

So after I figured that out, I went to YouTube as usual to hear the song properly, not like the version I remembered on that keyboard (which in the present day resides at my father's and is no longer played by my now teen-aged cousins). I found it and played it.

Now here comes the crazy part: It had several times the effect on me than the keyboard version. Oh my god. I could repeat that expression hundreds of times. God. Wow. I....couldn't.....I couldn't believe it.

It was really amazing. The keyboard that was prevalent in the synthesizer was the same here, only better-sounding. It started right away, no preamble or introduction. What got me immediately, what got my real attention over the keyboards, was the bass guitar. After two notes, it slides up the neck and then goes down a little, sounding just perfect with the song.

The lyrics talk about the problems with homelessness, bringing it to everyone's attention. I didn't really listen to that. I never listen to the lyrics much. The music video above was propelled by monochrome shots of people sleeping outdoors, under newspapers, as well as signs warning people not to give to them. Intercut with scenes of Phil Collins' face and layered scenes of guitar strings and other instruments. The first shot, actually, of the entire video after the scene of the Earth is the keyboard being played. The perfect accompaniment of what you hear first in the song.

I often say that it is even better with synesthesia. Well, it is. The whole thing to me is cast in a dark grey to black background. It doesn't exactly sound as sad. Just very deep. The guitar is also amazing, and it's an acoustic one. Music containing acoustic guitars doesn't appeal to me that much unless the guitar sounds good to me. This song and 'No Rain' by Blind Melon are the few examples. Everything just complements each other perfectly. The drums are quiet and easy-going. The guitar is very layered-sounding and complicated and good. The bass is amazing and perfect. The keyboards are the perfect touch.

Usually when I hear things they make me think of people. They do. This song is no exception. The bass I immediately personalize as myself. The guitar too. It's rare for the guitar to make me think of myself, this song and one by Bryan Adams are the only ones. One bass/piano note makes me think of a girl, not the one I think of during 'In the City.' You might think that I think of her when I hear the keyboards, but actually, I don't see her until the end, when they are fading away with the rest of the song. During that part, I also for some reason see the drums as me walking out of a bright white building in the early morning sunshine, meaning business. I guess I mostly see myself in the song. I don't think that's why I like it though, because I only think of myself when I listen to the bass. I listen to the bass in the song way more than I pay attention to the other instruments. The unbelievable slide it makes and the note right

There's one part, about 1:00 minutes in, where the bass drum doesn't begin the measure, and it's just the synthesizer and bass. It makes me kind of think of that girl (the one of the bass note) and thoughts of tenderness, affection, easiness, and sweetness. Like a mother and child or two intimate lovers, or someone reassuring someone with affection that they have feelings for. Just perfect.

I can't get over how nice the song sounds or what images it evokes or who it makes me think or or how it makes me think of things or people, and so on. But I can't go writing this forever. So I'll just leave it at that. Maybe later I'll scan a drawing of what I see when I hear the song or something. It's great. And I like how it was a kind of transfer between 1989 and 1990. Just about two years older than me. No wonder it was #1 around the world at the time. Wow.

-Justin C.

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