Monday, October 29, 2007

A Member of COOPO Speaks Out . . .

This is frustrating. I had an entire post finished, and now, thanks to Blogspot's infinite wisdom in the way they created this program, I've lost it. So, now, I must try to recreate my original post . Please bear with me . . .

Something cool happened the other day. I was at Starbucks with a friend of mine and, behind me, a woman started singing along with Diana Krall, who was singing "I've Got You Under My Skin" over the speaker system. Some of it was a form of scat-singing and some of it was more of a straight-up sing-along type of thing. She was pretty good too.

Here's the thing: I envy that woman. I envy her lack of consideration about what other people might think of her. I have a problem doing that kind of thing. See, I'm a member of COOPO, the Cult Of Other People's Opinion. (I suspect you might be a member too) I have trouble being as spontaneous as I'd like to be because I (way too often) think about what other people will think of what I'm doing. Who gave them this kind of power to dictate how I live my life? The truth is, I did. It's my choice to allow other people to control me because of what they might or might not think about what I want to do. It's frustrating.

I'm going to try to cancel my membership with COOPO and live more authentically. Maybe, next time, I'll sing a duet with that woman in Starbucks . . .

In other news, thanks very much for the kind words about my poem. They mean a lot. I'd like to post some more soon. We'll see how that goes.

Over and out.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Girl From The North Country

I think this performance is just beautiful. I thought you might like it too.

I hope you enjoy this.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

"The post in which Adam will try (and probably fail) to explain why he loves Radiohead's music."

So, as I said earlier, I've been listening to In Rainbows, the new album from Radiohead, since yesterday morning. Yes, that means that every single chance I've gotten, I've been listening to it. Again. And again. And again. I've been telling people this all day, but, you know, it's just as true now as it was the first time I said it: listening to a new Radiohead album is like eating at a fine restaurant after eating (mostly) fast food for a few years.

They're that good.

Out of all the bands that make music for consumption by the masses, Radiohead is one of the few bands that makes my shortlist of the "bands that really matter." See, their music is like a great piece of art. You might not fully appreciate it at first, but, if you give it time, you will be richly rewarded. After downloading the new album, I confess that I was underwhelmed at first. I thought to myself, "this is what we were waiting for?" But, I kept listening, and Radiohead's music, once again, did what does best. It bloomed.

Now, a lot of music can be judged on first listen, but not Radiohead's. Of course, sometimes one of their songs hits you the first time around, (a la Fake Plastic Trees or Karma Police) but, with a lot of their music, you just have to wait until the moment you've been waiting for comes. The songs come alive. Your body sways hypnotically to the beat, your mouth sings along the words you've just learned, and your whole being positively exults in the glorious sound.

Now, for the actual album itself. It hearkens back to the melodicism of OK Computer, with the complex rhythmic structures of Hail To The Thief and the synthesizers of Kid A thrown in. There's not a single song that I dislike, but there are a few that deserve special mention. First, Bodysnatchers is an example of flat-out guitar rock. (make that superb guitar rock) Nude is lush and beautiful, and I'd argue that it's one of the better songs they've ever done. All I Need is a beautiful love song. But, Reckoner? Reckoner is just gorgeous, and very groovy too. (just saying that it's "gorgeous" still isn't nearly enough) Finally, there's House of Cards. What can I say? It's probably the most straightforward love song they've ever done, and it's probably going to take its place among my very favorite Radiohead songs. All in all, this is a terrific album that I'd highly recommend you get as soon as possible. Go to and follow the directions for pre-ordering the download. (it's perfectly legal, by the way)

Radiohead is not easy listening, that's for sure. It is music that is completely unique and often difficult. Their music is the music of hopes both lost and found, fear, pain, joy, despair, and love. In other words, you could say that it's music that encompasses what it means to be human.

Wow. Just wow.

I'm listening to the new Radiohead record, In Rainbows, right now. They essentially leaked their own album yesterday. ( I'll post more about it later tonight.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Words of a Giant

Leonard Cohen is a giant among men. First a writer/poet, he decided to write songs, and what wondrous songs they are. I think he's one of the finest songwriters of the rock era, after Dylan, of course. Most people know his most famous composition, "Hallelujah," but have no idea that he's the one who wrote it. They've probably just heard the Jeff Buckley or John Cale versions. (or one of the countless others that exist) Now, while these versions are nice, (particularly Cale's) I personally think that Cohen's original is the best. The song has about 15 verses, and, depending upon which verses you use, the song can take on a number of meanings. Cohen's version is easily the most spiritual of the interpretations that have been made. But, the point is, while "Hallelujah" is a terrific song, (and one of my all-time favorites) Cohen has written so many more. I've included the lyrics of one of them below. I hope you enjoy it. I'll probably post more of his work later. If I was really gutsy, I'd post Ginsberg's "America." But, I guess that I'm just not really gutsy . . . ah well, another time.

The Stranger Song

It's true that all the men you knew were dealers
who said they were through with dealing
Every time you gave them shelter
I know that kind of man
It's hard to hold the hand of anyone
who is reaching for the sky just to surrender
who is reaching for the sky just to surrender.

And then sweeping up the jokers that he left behind
you find he did not leave you very much not even laughter
Like any dealer he was watching for the cardthat is so high and wild
he'll never need to deal another
He was just some Joseph looking for a manger
He was just some Joseph looking for a manger.

And then leaning on your window sill
he'll say one day you caused his will
to weaken with your love and warmth and shelter
And then taking from his wallet
an old schedule of trains, he'll say
I told you when I came I was a stranger
I told you when I came I was a stranger.

But now another stranger seems
to want you to ignore his dreams
as though they were the burden of some other
O you've seen that man before
his golden arm dispatching cards
but now it's rusted from the elbows to the finger
And he wants to trade the game he plays for shelter
Yes he wants to trade the game he knows for shelter.

Ah you hate to see another tired man
lay down his hand
like he was giving up the holy game of poker
And while he talks his dreams to sleep
you notice there's a highway
that is curling up like smoke above his shoulder
It is curling just like smoke above his shoulder.

You tell him to come in sit down
but something makes you turn around
The door is open you can't close your shelter
You try the handle of the road
It opens do not be afraid
It's you my love, you who are the stranger
It's you my love, you who are the stranger.

Well, I've been waiting, I was sure
we'd meet between the trains we're waiting for
I think it's time to board another
Please understand, I never had a secret chart
to get me to the heart of this
or any other matter
When he talks like this
you don't know what he's after
When he speaks like this,
you don't know what he's after.

Let's meet tomorrow if you choose
upon the shore, beneath the bridge
that they are building on some endless river
Then he leaves the platform
for the sleeping car that's warm
You realize, he's only advertising one more shelter
And it comes to you, he never was a stranger
And you say ok the bridge or someplace later.

And then sweeping up the jokers that he left behind ...

And leaning on your window sill ...

I told you when I came I was a stranger.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

On How Life Is (for real. NOT the Macy Gray album)

So, I'm sitting here in my room, writing this when I should be studying for mid-terms. Surprised? You shouldn't be .

I never said how my TaeKwonDo testing went, so, here's an update. I PASSED!!! I now hold the rank of 4th Degree Black Belt in Chang-Hun style TaeKwonDo. This has many benefits, as I am now eligible to judge National Testings, (like the one I just participated in) I now have a one-inch black stripe that reaches the length of my uniform pants, and, of course, I can now add the all-important 4th bar to my belt. Although, I'm going to just get a new belt, rather than adding a bar to my existing one. This'll be weird, because it's the only black belt I've ever owned, and it'll be weird to break in a new one. Anyway, I'm very happy right now. The tournament itself went all right, as I placed 4th (funny, no?) in forms in my division. Now, I move up to the "big boys" division: 4th and 5th Degree (men). I'm going to miss competing against my friends in the 3rd Degree division, as we have a good time together. But, hey, they'll be joining me soon enough, right? Strangely, the part of the tournament that I worked, (as a judge) was somewhat slow. Our ring only had 3 divisions all day. (which is a REALLY slow day) I guess that the powers that be that assign the divisions to rings didn't always know that we were free, and could have done more.

On a different note, have you seen that commercial where people just push the easy button and things just work out great? Part of me wouldn't mind such a system actually existing. I mean, I know that part of the great thing about real life is that it can be messy and strange, and occasionally (hopefully) resolving into some sense of beauty either in place of or amidst the chaos. But, it would sure be nice to be able to have the proverbial "God sitting at the kitchen table" experience. I have some unanswered questions that I'm not sure what to do with.

In other news, I'm writing a waltz. I'd share it with you when it's done, but I don't have one of those digital video cameras. If you know me personally, you'll just have to pester me into playing it for you. It's pretty cool, because I've written a bunch of songs, but never a waltz.

Now, I should go, because I have some things to do. Do me a favor and comment if you read this. I'd kind of like to see how many people actually read Visions of Johanna. (not that I should expect many, considering the, shall we say, "infrequent" nature of my posts)

Over and out.