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The raving thoughts of a misanthropic academic

December 22, 2007

Song of the Week: Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Written for the 1944 musical, Meet Me in St. Louis and performed by Judy Garland, the Pax Plena song of the week is nothing if not a classic.

Melding the romantic melancholy of Christmas with the soaring sounds of the season, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" has been a Holiday favorite performed by some of the biggest names in the business.

After consistent years of seasonal air-time, the song experienced a resurgence in the post-9/11 age when James Taylor recorded a modern version complete with darker lyrics. Taylor was by all accounts successful in capturing the somber mood of the Nation. The song was recently ranked #2 on the list of most played Christmas songs.

After giving it a further listen, the song can easily take the displaced and downcast alike back to fairer times. And so, as you think of happier days and pleasanter Christmas pasts (I certainly do) please enjoy the smooth saxophone of Kenny G and his instrumental version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Let your heart be light
From now on,
our troubles will be out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Make the Yule-tide gay,
From now on,
our troubles will be miles away.

Here we are as in olden days,
Happy golden days of yore.
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more.

Through the years
We all will be together,
If the Fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.
And have yourself A merry little Christmas now.
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December 13, 2007

Song of the Week: White Christmas

The sun is shinning the grass is green. The cacti and palm trees sway...

Not exactly how the song goes. But the Tucson iteration of Beverly Hills & LA is pretty close and as frustrated ex-Northerners bemoan the lack of snow in warmer climes it becomes ever clear that Christmas is upon us.

With thoughts of home and snow fresh on the mind, the Pax Plena song of the week will be no stranger to the holiday musicphiles among us. Yet, the history of Irving Berlin's White Christmas may well be relegated to the dusty box of family ornaments and the ghosts of Christmas past. What follows is a brief primer on America's most popular Christmas song.

Interestingly, White Christmas actually has an Arizona connection which had previously escaped me. According to legend, Irving Berlin wrote the song poolside at the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa just up the road from here in Phoenix. As the song hit airwaves in 1942, America was well into a period of deep uncertainty. In November, of the same year the U.S. Navy suffered heavy losses in the Battle of Guadalcanal and gasoline rationing began as a result on the order's of President Franklin D. Roosevelt back home. Suffice it to say, the backdrop for the inaugural performance of White Christmas in the film Holiday Inn was anything but auspicious.

But there was something special about the song. Berlin's initial assessment of his work turned out to be quite prescient- it was indeed the best song he had ever written. White Christmas would strike uniquely at the core of the American psyche, bringing with it all the charm and romance of the Christmas season to a Nation in more perilous a position than ever it had been since its founding. Released (perhaps not serendipitously) during the height of World War II, the song became a smashing hit with the American Armed Forces stationed overseas. The lyrics easily bring images of hearth and home to mind some sixty-five years later. It is difficult to apprehend their effect on American servicemen stationed in North Africa and Guadalcanal as the song made its way over the Armed Forces Radio Network. Suffice it to say, its success was nigh instantaneous.

By all accounts, the most famous version of the song remains the original rendition done by Bing Crosby in 1942. Its release then was actually just prior to the Christmas season and the song would go on to spend some 11 weeks atop the charts. It would return to the top twice more becoming the sole song in American history to make #1 three different times. The Guinness Book of World Records honors its as the number one Christmas song of all time.

Notably, while the 1942 version of the song features (arguably) the grandfather of the crooner generation, it does not feature the initial stanza originally written by Irving Berlin in the early 1940s. Both on the recording and in the movie in which it was initially introduced to American audiences, Bing Crosby sings only the chorus and leaves out the initial stanza. To provide its full effect, the complete lyrics appear in below. Legend has it, the initial stanza was set to poke fun at displaced northerns living in SoCal, once again proving that it is never a bad thing to make fun of Californians.

Even so, whether home for you is Los Angelas, Boston or Walters, please enjoy the 1942 version of Bing Crosby's White Christmas courtesy of Songza.com.






White Christmas

The sun is shining
The grass is green
The orange and palm trees sway.
I've never seen such a day
In Beverly Hills LA.
But it's December the 24th
And I am longing to be up North.

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know.
Where the treetops glisten,
And children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow.
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write.
May your days be merry and bright.
And may all your Christmases be white.
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December 3, 2007

Song of the Week: The Biggest Lie

A thousand apologies for those who have written to complain about the absence of songs of the week. Blame it on finals. As an act of obeisance, let me say that this week's song of the week will not disappoint.

I rarely buy songs on iTunes. Although with "one-click" shopping and Apple so willing to store my credit card information, one might wonder why not. Even so, when I heard the song which follows I was utterly haunted and compelled to make the purchase.

By all accounts, today's featured artist Elliott Smith was a troubled person. Born and raised across the U.S. but primarily hailing from Portland, Smith's life was shrouded in addiction and depression. In turn, his melancholic lyrics aptly reflect the tortured mind of a troubled soul. What makes his style of music so captivating is the clear high-tenor of Smith's voice coupled with an almost wispy style of delivery. If one listens late enough, Smith's singing can be mistaken for errant thoughts passing through the shadows of mind.

By way of introduction, some of you may recall Smith's music as featured in the Robin Williams' film Good Will Hunting. The Pax Plena song of the week is taken from Smith's self-titled, 1995 album- dubbed by critic Rob O'Connor as "one of the most understated and incredible albums to emerge from the indie-rock scene in the 1990s."

Please enjoy, Elliott Smith's The Biggest Lie.



The Biggest Lie

I'm waiting for the train
The subway that only goes one way
The stupid thing that will come to pull us apart
And make everybody late
You spent everything you had
Wanted everything to stop that bad
And now i'm a crushed credit card registered to smith
Not the name that you call me with
You turned white like a saint
I'm tired of dancing on a pot of gold flake paint
Oh we're so very precious, you and i
And everything that you do makes me want to die
Oh i just told the biggest lie
I just told the biggest lie
The biggest lie
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November 12, 2007

Song of the Week: Tennessee Waltz

My thoughts seem to be oddly turned toward Nashville this week. This afternoon, I stumbled upon an old favorite introduced to me during my erstwhile days at Dartmouth. Norah Jones with her smooth vocals and dexterous piano playing couldn't have performed the rendition of the song any better.

Without further ado the Pax Plena song of the week is none other than Redd Stewart and Pee Wee King's 1947 hit, the Tennessee Waltz as performed by Norah Jones. Lyrics follow. Enjoy!

(Note: The Tennessee Waltz is in no way intended to be confused with the Tennessee Waltz sting operation which sent several top Volunteer State Democrats to prison)



Tennessee Waltz
As Performed by Norah Jones

I was dancin' with my baby to the Tennessee Waltz
When an old friend I just happened to see
I introduced her to my loved one
And while they were dancin'
My friend stole my sweetheart from me

I remember the night and the Tennessee Waltz
And I knew just how much I had lost
I have lost my little darlin'
The night they were playing
The beautiful Tennessee Waltz

I remember the night and the Tennessee Waltz
And I knew just how much I had lost
I have lost my little darlin'
The night they were playing
The beautiful beautiful Tennessee Waltz
The Tennessee Waltz
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November 11, 2007

Bluebird Cafe Gets New Owners

Years ago, under happier circumstance, I had the chance to visit Nashville, TN and the Bluebird Cafe.

Actually located closer to nearby Brentwood than Nashville, the Bluebird struck me as remarkable place precisely because it seemed so typical. Opened along a nondescript strip mall just off a major artery out of the city, the Bluebird boasted cramped tables, and only mediocre food. Not at all what one would expect from a famous restaurant.

Of course, the real hallmark of the venue was its legend among country music artists. In many ways, the Bluebird Cafe is to country music what the Apollo Theater is to Jazz- an unexpected, musical sacred center.

Opened in the early 1980s, the Bluebird Cafe quickly became home to a regular gathering of music artists who provided live music for the restaurant's tiny stage. Eventually, some of these artists would go on to net major recording contracts with record labels across Music City. Famous names include song writing ace Paul Overstreet and country music legend Garth Brooks.

The rest, as they say, is history. As a venue, the small cafe soon became a mainstay of country music lore.

At any rate, I was saddened to learn a few months back that the cafe's future was in jeopardy as its owners mulled retirement. Fortunately, news on the wires this week is that the cafe has earned a reprieve.

[Link]

According to the Tennessean, the cafe will be purchased by the Nashville Songwriters Association International and will remain in operation for years to come.
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November 6, 2007

Song of the Week: There's Your Trouble

We had once a consistent song of the week here Pax Plena. The lapse is utterly my own. consider this the latest attempt to revive the practice. Today's song of the week is a fun one for both the wistful and self deprecating alike. Courtesy of the Dixie Chicks- back when they were musicians rather than political activists; to wit, they have always been much better at the former than the latter- the song will surely be a blast from the past for country music fans out there. Without further ado, the Pax Plena song of the week is none other than the Dixie Chick's There's Your Trouble. Lyrics follow after the jump. There's Your Trouble Should have been different, but It wasn't different, was it Same old story Dear John and so long Should have fit like a glove Should have fit like a ring, Like a Diamond ring Token of true Love Should have all worked out but it didn't She should be here now but she isn't CHORUS There's your trouble, there's your trouble You keep seeing double with the wrong one You can't see I love you You can't see she doesn't But you just keep holding on There's your trouble So now you're thinking 'bout All you're missing how Deep you're sinking Round and round dragging down Why don't you cash in your chips Why don't you call in a loss Not such a big loss Chalk it up better luck Could have been true love but it wasn't It should all add up but it doesn't REPEAT CHORUS Should of all worked out but it didn't She should be here now but she isn't REPEAT CHORUS [Link]
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October 17, 2007

Off On The Road To Morocco

In the Pax Plena Song of the Week, we featured Stewie Griffin and Brian singing "Off on the Road to Rhode Island."

For the sake of contrast, please find below the original number as performed by Bing Crosby and Bob Hope titled, "Off on the Road to Morocco."



Hat tip to Belgian Prince.
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Song of the Week: Road To Rhode Island

Some of you may recall that Pax Plena once had a weekly item where I featured a song of the week. Sadly, it took nary a month of law school before things went awry. Here's hoping to right the wrong and get the Pax Plena song of the week back on track.

Perhaps this selection is indicative of my present state, but the video below is definitely one of the funniest song/dance routines featured on Family Guy in my recent memory. Taken from the eponymous episode, Stewie Griffin and Brian the dog sing, "Road to Rhode Island." Lyrics follow after the jump.


Family Guy - Road To Rhode Island - The funniest videos are a click away

Road to Rhode Island

(Both) We're off on the road to Rhode Island
We're having the time of our lives.

(Stewie) (Take it dog...)

(Brian) We're quite a pair of partners,
Just Like Thelma and Louise.
'cept you're not six feet tall

(Stewie) Yes, and your breasts don't reach your knees.
(Brian) (Give it time.)

(Both) We're off on the road to Rhode Island,
We're certainly going in style.

(Brian) I'm with an intellectual, who craps inside his pants.
(Stewie) How dare you. At least I don't leave urine stains on all the household plants.
(Brian) (Oh, pee jokes)

(Both) We've traveled a bit and we've found,
Like a masochist in Newport we're Rhode Island bound.

((Brian) Crazy travel conditions, huh?
(Stewie) First class or no class
(Brian) Whoa, careful with that joke, it's an antique)

(Both) We're off on the road to Rhode Island
We're not going to stop until we're there
(Brian) Maybe for a beer.

(Brian) Whatever dangers we may face, we'll never fear or cry
(Stewie) That's right, until we're syndicated Fox will never let us die. (Please!)

(Both) We're off on the road to Rhode Island,
The home of that old campus swing.

(Brian) We may pick up some college girls, and picnic on the grass.
(Stewie) We'd tell you more, but we'd have the censors on our ass.
(Brian) (Yikes!)

(Both) We're off on the road to Rhode Island
We certainly do get around.
Like a bunch of renegade pilgrims
Who are thrown out of Plymouth colony.
We're Rhode Island bound.
Or like a group of college freshmen
who were rejected by Harvard and forced to go to Brown!

We're Rhode Island Bound..

(fade out)
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September 4, 2007

Song of the Week: Just a Closer Walk with Thee

It's been a while since we've posted a song of the week here let alone one from the Gospel genre. As chance would have it, this afternoon my random iTunes mix turned up an old favorite of mine ever since I bought the CD back during my senior year of college. Accordingly, this long delayed Pax Plena song of the week is brought to you courtesy of country/gospel music artist Randy Travis and is titled, Just a Closer Walk with Thee.

Written sometime during the early 20th century, Just a Closer Walk with Thee became a classic Negro Spiritual and was widely circulated as a Dixieland standard which would become a rallying point for poor blacks in the Mississippi Delta. The song melds elements of blues and country to create a sound that is both uplifting and plaintive. I won't bore you with futher analysis. It really is a song that speaks for itself. Belows is the performance by Randy Travis. Lyrics follow after the jump.


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Just a Closer Walk with Thee

I am weak but Thou art strong
Jesus keep me from all wrong
I'll be satisfied as long as I walk
Dear Lord, close to Thee.

Just a closer walk with Thee
Grant it Jesus, is my plea
Daily walkin' close to Thee
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.

Through this world of toils and snares
If I falter Lord, who cares?
Who with me my burden shares?
None but Thee, dear Lord, none but Thee.

Just a closer walk with Thee
Grant it Jesus, is my plea
Daily walkin' close to Thee
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.

When my feeble life is o'er
Time for me will be no more
Guide me gently, safely o'er
To Thy kingdom dear Lord, to Thy shore.

Just a closer walk with Thee
Grant it Jesus, is my plea
Daily walkin' close to Thee
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.
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August 14, 2007

Song of the Week: Online

It's been a while since we've done a Pax Plena song of the week. Here's the latest, hilarious hit by Brad Paisley which pretty much sums up most things you'll find online (including this site). Direct from the new album here is Brad Paisley's Online. Online I work down at the Pizza Pit And I drive an old Hyundai I still live with my mom and dad I'm 5 foot 3 and overweight I'm a scifi fanatic A mild asthmatic And I've never been to second base But there's whole ‘nother me That you need to see Go checkout MySpace 'Cause online I'm out in Hollywood I'm 6 foot 5 and I look damn good I drive a Maserati I'm a black-belt in karate And I love a good glass of wine It turns girls on that I’m mysterious I tell them I don't want nothing serious 'Cause even on a slow day I could have a three way Chat with two women at one time I’m so much cooler online So much cooler online When I get home I kiss my mom And she fixes me a snack And I head down to my basement bedroom And fire up my Mac In real life the only time I’ve ever even been to L.A Is when I got the chance with the marching band To play tuba in the Rose Parade Online I live in Malibu I pose for Calvin Klein, I've been in GQ I'm single and I'm rich And I've got a set of six pack abs that would blow your mind It turns girls on that I’m mysterious I tell them I don't want nothing serious 'Cause even on a slow day I could have a three way Chat with two women at one time I’m so much cooler online So much cooler online When you got my kind of stats It’s hard to get a date Let alone a real girlfriend But I grow another foot and I lose a bunch of weight Every time I login Online I’m out in Hollywood I’m 6 foot 5 and I look damn good Even on a slow day I could have a three way Chat with two women at one time I’m so much cooler online Yeah, I’m cooler online I’m so much cooler online Yeah, I’m cooler online Yeah, I’m cooler online Yeah, I’ll see ya online
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July 11, 2007

Song of the Week: That's What I Love About Sunday

Perhaps it's typical of warm days to wax nostalgic over summers past? Whatever the reason, of late whenever I hear Craig Morgan's That's What I Love About Sunday, it reminds me of the lazy summer days of my youth spent back in Oklahoma. The music is written in a high, minor key with E and A minor chords featured prominently throughout. This point notwithstanding, the song itself is more introspective than it is sad as the chorus picks up with a rich mix of full major chords before the its conclusion. Instruments tend to be acoustic guitar supported by fiddle and percussion. Fairly typical of country music. While the music is good, it really is Morgan's voice which carries the song and drives its story. The lyrics themselves present the tale of a simple family enjoying their Sunday tracing the day from a morning church service to Sunday lunch afterward before ending with an evening stroll. While it's certainly an arguable point, in the opinion of yours truly, the song pretty much sums up the perfect day. Sometimes the best of life really is the simple. In all, the song offers an experience enjoyed widely back in Walters and one I hope to enjoy again someday soon. For now, life is humidity and Boston bustle but Morgan's tune is a nice respite even in the midst of a crowd. The song's official music video is presented below for your listening and viewing pleasure. Lyrics follow after the jump. That's What I Love About Sunday Raymond's in his Sunday best, He's usually up to his chest in oil an' grease. There's the Martin's walkin' in, With that mean little freckle-faced kid, Who broke a window last week. Sweet Miss Betty likes to sing off key in the pew behind me. That's what I love about Sunday: Sing along as the choir sways; Every verse of Amazin' Grace, An' then we shake the Preacher's hand. Go home, into your blue jeans; Have some chicken an' some baked beans. Pick a back yard football team, Not do much of anything: That's what I love about Sunday. I stroll to the end of the drive, Pick up the Sunday Times, grab my coffee cup. It looks like Sally an' Ron, finally tied the knot, Well, it's about time. It's 35 cents off a ground round, Baby. cut that coupon out! That's what I love about Sunday: Cat-napping on the porch swing; You curled up next to me, The smell of jasmine wakes us up. Take a walk down a back road, Tackle box and a cane pole; Carve our names in that white oak, An' steal a kiss as the sun fades, That's what I love about Sunday, Oh, yeah. Ooh, new believers gettin' baptized, Momma's hands raised up high, Havin' a Hallelujah good time A smile on everybody's face. That's what I love about Sunday, Oh, yeah. That's what I love about Sunday, Oh, yeah.
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July 2, 2007

Song of the Week: The Star Spangled Banner

As you can tell from the header above, the anniversary of our Nation's Independence is nearly upon us.

Accordingly, the Pax Plena song of the week is none other than our National Anthem, The Star Spangled Banner. Normally, I would write a longer post analyzing the song and musical styles but in this instance, I can do very little to add to the powerful words of our Nation's sacred hymn. Please enjoy this rendition of the Star Spangled Banner as performed by the Charlie Daniels Band. Full lyrics follow after the jump.



The Star Spangled Banner

Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro' the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watch'd, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen thro' the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner: O, long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash'd out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
Between their lov'd homes and the war's desolation;
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserv'd us as a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust"
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
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June 20, 2007

Song of the Week: This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race

The Pax Plena song of the week comes to you courtesy of Alternative music sensation Fall Out Boy and is titled, This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race.

FOB has been a recent introduction to yours truly although the group has been around on the order of a few years. Like most success stories they seem to have taken off overnight. Today's featured song appears on their latest album Infinity on High which also includes the hit Thnks fr th Mmrs- a tremendous song in its own right albeit a bit bitter.

FOB's music is most easily described as punk-alternative; an admittedly pronounced departure for an ardent country music fan such as myself. But what I enjoy most about FOB's music is its tempo and speed. Anyone needing a shot of adrenaline in the afternoon need look no further than the latest album. Fortunately, the up-beat tempo is seamlessly melded with a cutting edge mix of drums, guitar accompaniment, and even orchestra; all of which combine to underscore the clever lyrics of Pete Wentz and underrated vocals of lead singer Patrick Stump. In terms of style, the sound definitely stays true to its punk origins although there is a bit of R&B mixed in with today's selection.

The lyrics of this song are incredibly well done for a popular album. This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race forcefully presents the importance of free speech and thought for audiences' consideration. If I may indulge my own conjecture, the song also sketches a philosophy for the band's music: arming listeners with the power of words to fight in the battle of ideas. The driving idea behind the song also seems to embrace the medieval notion of singer as bard, poet and scholar. I would normally argue that this role is too much for most public entertainers- after all, how much can Britney Spears and Paris Hilton really contribute to public discourse? But FOB does a good job of rejecting dogma and forcing people to consider their own assumptions; a healthy phenomenon for any culture. In turn, today's song does an unusually good job of marrying provocative lyrics with memorable sound.

The video below tells the story of this tension and presents a complex picture of music in today's society. The band's view of the matter is not clear and leaves any conclusions wonderfully open-ended for listeners and fans to consider themselves. Lyrics follow after the jump. Enjoy.




This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race

I am an arms dealer
Fitting you with weapons in the form of words
And I don't really care, which side wins
As long as the room keeps singing
That's just the business I'm in

This ain't a scene, it's a god damn arms race
This ain't a scene, it's a god damn arms race
This ain't a scene, it's a god damn arms race
I'm not a shoulder to cry on, but I digress

I'm a leading man
And the lies I weave are oh so intricate, oh so intricate
I'm a leading man
And the lies I weave are oh so intricate, oh so intricate

I wrote the gospel on giving up
(You look pretty sinking)
But the real bombshells have already sunk
(Primadonnas of the gutter)
At night we're painting your trash gold while you sleep
Crashing not like hips or cars
No, more like p-p-p-parties

This ain't a scene, it's a god damn arms race
This ain't a scene, it's a god damn arms race
This ain't a scene, it's a god damn arms race
Bandwagon's full. Please, catch another

I'm a leading man
And the lies I weave are oh so intricate, oh so intricate
I'm a leading man
And the lies I weave are oh so intricate, oh so intricate

All the boys who the dance floor didn't love
And all the girls whose lips couldn't move fast enough
Sing until your lungs give out

This ain't a scene, it's a god damn arms race
This ain't a scene, it's a god damn arms race
(Now you)
This ain't a scene, it's a god damn arms race
(Wear out the groove)
This ain't a scene, it's a god damn arms race
(Sing out loud)
This ain't a scene, it's a god damn arms race
(Oh, oh)
This ain't a scene, it's a god damn arms race

I'm a leading man
And the lies I weave are oh so intricate, oh so intricate
I'm a leading man
And the lies I weave are oh so intricate, oh so intricate
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June 12, 2007

Song of the Week: Painter Song

After last week's 80s blast from the past, this song of the week is of a more mellow hue. Taken from eleven-time Grammy Award winner, Norah Jones, the Pax Plena song of the week is whimsically titled, Painter Song.

Musically, the song carefully opens with the melded strains of acoustic guitar and Jones' soft vocals. The initial ambiance created by the sound is one which transports the mind to distant places in time as much as it creates a sound which lulls and enchants. What ultimately makes the sound especially unique is its use of the accordion which enters softly for a solo after the opening verse. As the accordion plays, one immediately thinks of Italy and cool summer nights, which only helps to stretch the mind and make the music listening experience last much longer than it really is. The smooth sound of Jones' vocals provide the closing chorus as the song reaches its clear, folksy end.

Although yours truly is utterly bereft of any artistic ability whatsoever, with its eponymous title, Painter Song tells the story of an individual who yearns to be an artist that she might paint memories of a love past. The thought is not one far removed from most but Jones' song gives it a unique narration that makes it eminently translatable. Accordingly, more than any particular feature of the song, it is Jones' peerless voice which prods the mind to reflect upon such distant memories and reconsider those with whom we would meet again in a picture framed only by our mind's eye.

A video of the song with lyrics is below (no real music video exists to my knowledge). Lyrics follow after the jump.




Painter Song Lyrics

If I were a painter
I would paint my reverie
If that's the only way for you to be with me

We'd be there together
Just like we used to be
Underneath the swirling skies for all to see

And I'm dreaming of a place
Where I could see your face
And I think my brush would take me there
But only...

If I were a painter
And could paint a memory
I'd climb inside the swirling skies to be with you
I'd climb inside the skies to be with you

And I'm dreaming of a place
Where I could see your face
And I think my brush would take me there
But only...

If I were a painter
And could paint a memory
I'd climb inside the swirling skies to be with you
I'd climb inside the skies to be with you
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June 4, 2007

Song of the Week: Walk of Life

We're all about change here at Pax Plena. After a one time song of the week siesta (due largely to a confused blogger coming off a long weekend), this week's Pax Plena song of the week is back with a vengeance. Stretching the boundaries of genre, good taste and form, the Pax Plena song of the week comes to you courtesy of 80s sensation Dire Straits and is titled Walk of Life.

Time for a scary confession of the sort I typically try to avoid on this blog.

More than any song, Walk of Life defined the earliest memories of my childhood. To this day, I can vividly recall the backseat of my parents dusty, fourth generation Chevy Monte Carlo as we bustled down the country roads of Cotton County listening to the radio. Blaring on the radio was nothing less than our featured tune Walk of Life. Oddly, for some reason, I also recall associating elephants with the song. Silly dancing elephants. Apparently, somethings remain beyond the realm of apprehension. Nevertheless, released in May of 1985 Walk of Life is easily the earliest song I can recall. As an avowed connoisseur of country music, the realization troubles me. Then again, on another level, it really doesn't. What self-respecting 20-something didn't hear Walk of Life as a youngster? And what product of the 1980s wasn't wrought in ostentatious hair and a mellow beat? It could have been worse after all. I might have been born during the 1970s- suffice it to say I'd much rather have been young during the Reagan years than the Carter years any day.

Musically, what Dire Straits did best in the song was take rock 'n' roll back to its roots. Literate lyrics, simple chords, and syncopated rhythms. In fact, the song as performed on an acoustic guitar features mainly the A and E chords that any beginner would learn straight away. What most sets the song apart from other works and gives it its rockabilly feel is the memorable keyboard riff and bass guitar line which sustains the song throughout its four minute duration. One word comes to mind while listening: happy. The music video follows suit. While the British version is markedly different, the U.S. video features sports bloopers and features cameo appearances from Michael Jordan to Roger Clemens (back before the Yankees sucked).

Lyrically, the song was said to describe the plight of young music artists trying to make it big in the days before mass marketing and record deals. Think music bard as opposed to American Idol. It's interesting to note that for an optimistic song, there are a number of darker references but the melody and keyboard riff make it difficult to do anything but smile- in my case, perhaps nostalgically. Feel free to indulge your 80s music craving with the music video below. Lyrics follow after the jump.




Walk of Life

Here comes Johnny singing oldies, goldies
Be-Bop-A-Lua, Baby What I Say
Here comes Johnny singing I Gotta Woman
Down in the tunnels, trying to make it pay
He got the action, he got the motion
Yeah, the boy can play
Dedication devotion
Turning all the night time into the day

He do the song about the sweet lovin' woman
He do the song about the knife
He do the walk, he do the walk of life

Here comes Johnny and he'll tell you the story
Hand me down mu walkin' shoes
Here come Johnny with the power and the glory
Backbeat the talkin' blues
He got the action, he got the motion
Yeah, the boy can play
Dedication devotion
Turning all the night time into the day

He do the song about the sweet lovin' woman
He do the song about the knife
He do the walk, he do the walk of life

Here comes Johnny singing oldies, goldies
Be-Bop-A-Lula, Baby What I Say
Here comes Johnny singing I Gotta Woman
Down in the tunnels, trying to make it pay
He got the action, he got the motion
Yeah the boy can play
Decidation devotion
Turning all the night time into the day

And after all the violence and double talk
There's just a song in the trouble and the strife
You do the walk, you do the walk of life
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May 15, 2007

Song of the Week: Guitars, Cadillacs

The Pax Plena song of the week comes to you from country music legend Dwight Yoakam and is titled Guitars, Cadillacs.

As some fans may recall, way back in 1986 Dwight Yoakam took the country music world by storm introducing an unexpected resurgence of Buck Owens' "Bakersfield sound" to an ailing industry which had begun to sound more like rock than country. One of the first songs which would catapult the movement still sustained today was Guitars, Cadillacs.

Yoakam's sound is unique because it deploys traditional country instruments to create a melody reminiscent of country music's roots in the bars and dance halls of West Texas- long before it became a multimillion-dollar industry wrought by the kitsch of Nashville.

Yoakam's voice in the song, specifically, takes listeners back to the dusty days of a burgeoning California and the trials of those who seek western opportunity and fail. Like most of his songs, Guitars, Cadillacs is a love story, but one written for the blue-collar man. Rather than embracing defeat, the singer ruminates with amusement on his situation finding comfort in, you guessed it, guitars, Cadillacs and hillbilly music.

In all, it's a fun song and a great trip down memory lane. The musicianship is spot on and Yoakam's voice never sounded better. Lyrics follow after the jump. The music video is posted below. Enjoy!



Guitars, Cadillacs

Girl, you taught me how to hurt real bad
And cry myself to sleep
And showed me how this town can shatter dreams
Another lesson 'bout a naive fool
Who came to Babylon
And found out that the pie
Don't taste so sweet

Now it's guitars, cadillacs, hillbilly music
Lonely, lonely streets that I call home
Yea, my guitars, cadillacs, hillbilly music
It's the only thing that keep me hangin' on

Ain't no glamour in this tinsle land
Of lost and wasted lives
Painful scars are all that's left of me
I wanna thank-you girl for teachin' me
Brand new ways to be cruel
Like findin' mine now I guess I'll just leave

And it's guitars, cadillacs, hillbilly music
Lonely, lonely streets that I call home
Yea, my guitars, cadillacs, hillbilly music
It's the only thing that keep me hangin' on

Oh it's guitars, cadillacs, hillbilly music
Lonely, lonely streets that I call home
Yea, my guitars, cadillacs, hillbilly music
It's The only thing that keep me hangin' on

It's the only thing that keep me hangin' on

It's the only thing that keep me hangin' on
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May 7, 2007

Song of the Week: All at Sea

On this balmy, spring day, the Pax Plena song of the week comes to you direct from the memories of lazy college afternoons past courtesy of Jazz up-and-comer Jamie Cullum and his 2003 hit, All at Sea.

One remarkable aspect of Cullum's music is its inexplicable performance style. With Cullum, every song is its own boisterous entity and All at Sea is no exception. In general, the soft melody takes listeners to a personal reprieve away from circumstance, obligation and superficiality but its erratic denouement calls from beyond the smooth drink of isolation and invites (almost challenges) unnamed company to enjoy the nothing.

Cullum's voice is unquestionably gifted. It melds a bit of John Mayer with Frank Sinatra to create a unique sound that is hard to define. His piano abilities are commendable as well- a quick watch of the video indicates as much. While All at Sea is among the more mellow numbers in Cullum's set, it succeeds in its own right due to his ability to take the melody in unanticipated lyrical directions. Not a bad artistic accomplishment for such a fresh voice. Lyrics follow after the jump. Enjoy!


All at Sea

I’m all at sea
Where no one can bother me
Forgot my roots
If only for a day
Just me and my thoughts
Sailing far away

Like a warm drink it seeps into my soul
Please just leave me right here on my own
Later on you could spend some time with me
If you want to, all at sea

I’m all at sea
Where no-one can bother me
I sleep by myself
I drink on my own
I don’t speak to nobody
I gave away my phone

Like a warm drink it seeps into my soul
Please just leave me right here on my own
Later on you could spend some time with me
If you want to, all at sea

Now I need you more than ever
I need you more than ever now

If you don’t need it every day
But sometimes don’t you just crave
To disappear within your mind
You never know what you might find
So come and spend some time with me
And we will spend it all at sea

Like a warm drink it seeps into my soul
Please just leave me right here on my own
Later on you could spend some time with me
If you want to, all at sea

Ooooh
If you want to, all at sea
If you want to
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April 23, 2007

Song of the Week: Good Directions

With 80 degree weather newly come to Boston, my mind turns toward thoughts of summer. Billy Currington's Good Directions fits the bill just fine.

The song tells the story of an improbable summer love with a mix of hot weather, pick up trucks, and turnips. It's a fun little song and just right for this time of year.

The video below is a fan created music video shot to the song and mixed. It's not a bad production for a random fan. Nice work.

Lyrics follow after the jump. Enjoy!




Good Directions

I was sittin’ there sellin’ turnips on a flatbed truck
Crunchin’ or a pork rind when she pulled up
She had to be thinkin’ “This is where the rednecks come from”
She had Hollywood written on her license plate
She was lost and lookin’ for the interstate
Needin’ directions and I was the man for the job

[Chorus]
I told her way up yonder past the caution light
There’s a little country store with an old Coke sign
You gotta stop in and ask Miss Bell for some of her sweet tea
Then a left will take you to the interstate
But a right will bring you right back here to me

I was sittin’ there thinkin’ ‘bout her pretty face
Kickin’ myself for not catchin’ her name
I threw my hat and thought, “You fool, that coulda been love”
I knew my old Ford couldn’t run her down
She probably didn’t like me anyhow
So I watched her disappear in a cloud of dust.

[Chorus]
I told her way up yonder past the caution light
There’s a little country store with an old Coke sign
You gotta stop in and ask Miss Bell for some of her sweet tea
Then a left will take you to the interstate
But a right will bring you right back here to me

Is this Georgia heat playin’ tricks on me
Or am I really seein’ what I think I see
The woman of my dreams comin’ back to me

She went way up yonder past the caution light
Don’t know why, but somethin’ felt right
When she stopped in and asked Miss Bell for some of her sweet tea
Mama gave her a big ‘ol glass and sent her right back here to me

Thank God for good directions…and turnip greens
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April 16, 2007

Song of the Week: Estrellita

The Pax Plena song of the week comes to you from a somewhat different genre featuring classical composer Manuel Ponce's famous ballad Estrellita. Written in the early 20th century, Estrellita became a unique sensation quickly working its way into the lexicon of Mexican folk songs.

Originally set to Spanish lyrics, the song tells the story of a female voice who confides in her little star about the hidden love she feels for an unnamed man- a love which may ultimately carry her to the grave. Ponce takes the monologue (which could easily be viewed as a prayer of sorts), and sets it against an opening melody that quickly covers an entire octave. The resonant strains of the violin carry the line to greater heights reminding the listener of the confidence being communicated to the star solitaire.

 The melody remains at all points both tender and intense.

The song was eventually made famous among western audiences when performed by the renown violinist Jascha Heifetz in the 1939 Archie Mayo film They Shall Have Music. A clip of the Heifetz rendition can be heard below - presumably as extracted from the movie. Lyrics in Spanish and English follow. Enjoy!



Estrellita
Estrellita del lejano cielo,
que miras mi dolor,
que sabes mi sufrir.
Baja y dime
si me quiere un poco,
porque yo no puedo sin su amor vivir.

¡Tu eres estrella mi faro de amor!
Tu sabes que pronto he de morir.
Baja y dime
si me quiere un poco,
porque yo no puedo sin su amor vivir.


Estrellita
Little star of the distant sky,
you see my pain,
you know my anguish.
Come down and tell me
if he loves me a little,
because I cannot live without his love.

You are my star, my beacon of love!
You know that soon I shall die.
Come down and tell me
if he loves me a little,
because I cannot live without his love.

Update 09/22/08: This post remains one of the more popular songs of the week we've done, so I felt it needed an update.

To wit, the original video once posted above is no more. But I've also included a stunning rendition of Estrellita by violinist Joshua Bell. Enjoy!

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April 9, 2007

Song of the Week: Ticks

The Pax Plena song of the week comes to you courtesy of country music sensation Brad Paisley and is affectionately titled Ticks.

Not a lot of depth and introspection this week. Just a great song that mixes equal portions comedy, romance and country. It's the kinda song most of the kids in Cotton County can understand. For those city slickers reading, I guarantee you'll never think of pesky ticks in quite the same way.

The link at the below takes you to a streaming version of the song via Brad Paisley's myspace page.

Just click play and enjoy!

[Link]


Ticks

Every time you take a sip
In this smoky atmosphere
You press that bottle to your lips
And I wish I was your beer
In the small there of your back
Your jeans are playing peekaboo
I'd like to see the other half of your butterfly tattoo.

Hey that gives me an idea
Let's get out of this bar
Drive out into the country
And find a place to park.

'Cause I'd like to see you out in the moonlight
I'd like to kiss you way back in the sticks
I'd like to walk you through a field of wildflowers
And I'd like to check you for ticks.

I know the perfect little path
Out in these woods I used to hunt
Don't worry babe I've got your back
And I've also got your front
Now, I'd hate to waste a night like this

I'll keep you safe you wait and see
The only thing allowed to crawl all over you when we get there is me.

You know every guy in here tonight
Would like to take you home
But I've got way more class than them
Babe that ain't what I want.

'Cause I'd like to see you out in the moonlight
I'd like to kiss you way back in the sticks
I'd like to walk you through a field of wildflowers
And I'd like to check you for ticks.

You never know where one might be
There's lots of place that are hard to reach
I gotcha.

I'd like to see you out in the moonlight
I'd like to kiss you baby way back in the sticks
I'd like to walk you through a field of wildflowers
And I'd like to check you for ticks.

Oh, I'd sure like to check you for ticks...

*Photo courtesy of PictureCorrect.com
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April 2, 2007

Song of the Week: Kissing a Fool

Perhaps it's the rainy weather here in Boston, but this week's song of the week continues a succession of mellow songs performed by dynamic artists. The Pax Plena song of the weeks comes to you direct from modern crooner Michael Bublé and is titled Kissing a Fool.

One of the most redeeming qualities about the song is its smokey, lounge quality feel. Written by George Michael in the late 80s, the song takes listeners back to the dive bars and cramped stages of the Jazz age complete with soaring lyrics and sparse percussion. One can almost see tuxedo-clad men with a glass of scotch listening in on a summer's evening.

The opening strains in the Bublé version, begin with a lead bass intro which is joined almost immediately in whisper by vocals. Bublé's voice, however, is quick to showcase exactly why he is every bit the crooner he purports to be. Rest assured, in this song, the quietest sounds never become a bore. Bublé's range is disparate, covering everything from the delicate lines preceding the opening chorus to the vibrant peak near the final repetition. Through its unique blend of instruments, trumpet, piano, and percussion most prominently, the score ably presents Bublé's voice by striking a nice balance between accompaniment and instrumental musicality.

The song itself traverses a wide range of emotions from hope, to despair and ultimately toward faith in faith. But its theme is fairly well contained- love sought, love lost and the personal introspection which invariably follows. The central idea seems to be the inability of lovers to commit and specifically in the inability of one to withstand outside pressures for want of mutual matters of the heart.

The video below plays the song in its entirety. If you can over look the silly video on which someone has decided to affix the song, you'll find the performance most enjoyable. Lyrics follow.



Kissing A Fool


You are far
When I could have been your star
You listened to people
Who scared you to death
And from my heart
Strange that you were strong enough
To even make a start
But you'll never find
Peace of mind
Till you listen to your heart

People
You can never change the way the feel
Better let them do just what they will
For they will
If you let them
Steal your heart from you
People
Will always make a lover feel the fool
But you knew I loved you
We could have shown them all
We should have seen love through

Fooled me with the tears in your eyes
Covered me with kisses and lies
So bye
But please don't take my heart

You are far
I'm never gonna be your star
I'll pick up the pieces
And mend my heart
Strange that I was wrong enough
To think you'd love me too
You must have been were kissing a fool
You must have been kissing a fool

But remember this
Every other kiss
That you'll ever give
Long as we both live
When you need the hand of another man
One you really can surrender with
I will wait for you
Like I always do
There's something there
That can't compare with any other

You are far
When I could have been your star
You listened to people
Who scared you to death
And from my heart
Strange that I was wrong enough
To think you'd love me too
You must have been kissing a fool
You must have been kissing a fool

You must have been kissing a fool
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March 26, 2007

Song of the Week: Wasted

The Pax Plena song of the week comes to you via country music Grammy Award winner (and Native Oklahoman) Carrie Underwood and is titled Wasted.

Most analyses of this song seem indicate that it is rooted in the dark theme of alcoholism. This assumption certainly isn't a stretch given the title but more than this the song is apt for any circumstance in which the will to live outweighs the will to mourn. It embodies a classic notion of personal resolve that an individual can recover from wasted years, from being jaded, even from depression through a personal decision to live again.

Musically, there are various elements at work which make the song a powerful piece not the least of which being Underwood's voice which is at times both soaring and contemplative- an atypical combination, indeed, for country music. Speaking as a fan, country music often inhabits the extremes of the style spectrum. It tends to be either really up-beat or fairly mellow. This song in particular seems to meld the two well.

The video below is a performance of Underwood's hit. It has been hailed by critics as one of the best country music videos released in recent years. Shot in black and white, the video tells the story of two lovers, their break up, and how the situation is ultimately resolved.

Enjoy!




Wasted
Standing at the back door
She tried to make it fast
One tear hit the hard wood
It felt like broken glass
She said sometimes love slips away
And you just can't get it back
Let's face it

For one split second
She almost turned around
But that would be like pouring rain drops
Back into a cloud
So she took another step and said
I see the way out and I'm gonna' take it

I don't wanna' spend my life jaded
Waitin' to wake up one day and find
That I've let all these years go by
Wasted

Another glass of whisky but it still don't kill the pain
So he stumbles to the sink and pours it down the drain
He says it's time to be a man and stop living for yesterday
Gotta face it.

Cause' I don't wanna' spend my life jaded
Waitin' to wake up one day and find
That I've let all these years go by
Wasted

Oh I don't wanna' keep on wishing, missin'
But still every morning' the color of the night
I ain't spending no more time
Wasted

She kept drivin' along
Till the moon and the sun were floating side-by-side
He looked in the mirror and his eyes were clear
For the first time in a while

Hey, yeah,
Oh, I don't wanna' spend my life jaded
Waitin' to wake up one day and find
That I've let all these years go by
Wasted

Oh I don't wanna' keep on wishing, missing
But still every morning' the color of the night
I ain't spending no more time
Wasted

Oh, I don't wanna' spend my life jaded
Waitin' to wake up one day and find
That I've let all these years go by
Wasted

Yeah, yeah
Oh I don't wanna' keep on wishing, missing
But still every morning' the color of the night
I ain't spending no more time
Wasted
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March 20, 2007

Song of the Week: Chattanooga Choo Choo


The Pax Plena song of the week hearkens us back to a bygone era of contrasting simplicities- when good and evil were objective and when America could fight a war on two fronts and win with only good ole' American resolve.

The year was August 21, 1941 less than four months before America's entry into World War II and the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. Glen Miller's orchestra had just ushered in a brand new era of big band swing and its new hit Chattanooga Choo Choo was the hottest song going. Fresh off the silver screen and into the radios and theaters of audiences across North America, the Milton Berle film Sun Valley Serenade introduced our swing classic to the world.

The song is about a train trip taken from New York City to Chattanooga, TN back when Chattanooga was the kind of town folks ought to visit- when some three railways catered to the city's transportation needs. It explores a now lost mode of travel and an increasingly passé notion of commitment. But the music will be as familiar to listeners as any sound of Americana- which only reinforces the view that the song has become somewhat of an American institution unto itself.

Chattanooga Choo Choo melds the breezy vocals of Tex Beneke (who would go on to provide the vocals for most of the Glen Miller Orchestra's biggest hits) with the big band sound of trombone, trumpet and tenor sax melody. Most notably, the background accompaniment infuses the opening strains with train engine sounds which help to blend seamlessly lyric and score. Like most swing songs, the tune is played to an up beat rhythm just right for dancing. If anything, the song was marketable in the Rainbow Room's golden age.

Listening to the song some 65 years later, the ultimate contribution it makes to the lexicon of music is its sentimental recollection of America's lost innocence. It calls to mind the days before Islamofascism, the War on Terror and even the Greatest Generation. It conjures up memories of a time when the mere mention of satin and lace was enough to raise eyebrows, long before the days of quick flights, 24-hour news cycles and even shorter marriages.

The link at the bottom provides a brief You Tube video from Sun Valley Serenade and features the song as performed back in 1941. Enjoy!


Chattanooga Choo Choo

Pardon me, boy
Is that the Chattanooga choo choo?
Track twenty-nine
Boy, you can gimme a shine
I can afford
To board a Chattanooga choo choo
I've got my fare
And just a trifle to spare

You leave the Pennsylvania Station 'bout a quarter to four
Read a magazine and then you're in Baltimore
Dinner in the diner
Nothing could be finer
Than to have your ham an' eggs in Carolina

When you hear the whistle blowin' eight to the bar
Then you know that Tennessee is not very far
Shovel all the coal in
Gotta keep it rollin'
Woo, woo, Chattanooga there you are

There's gonna be
A certain party at the station
Satin and lace
I used to call "funny face"
She's gonna cry
Until I tell her that I'll never roam
So Chattanooga choo choo
Won't you choo-choo me home?
Chattanooga choo choo
Won't you choo-choo me home?

[Link]
Photo courtesy of Classic Photos.com
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March 13, 2007

Song of the Week: Somewhere in Between

Taking a brief interlude from country and blue grass groups, the Pax Plena song of the week comes to you courtesy of alternative music group Lifehouse and is titled Somewhere in Between.

Through minor chords and repetitive melody, the song commends an obvious sympathy for anyone living amid one of life's crossroads and waiting for the next steps to become clear. It's mellow tenor communicates that the ultimate message of the song is as much one of grace as it is one of transition. The unspoken lesson seems to be that time has a way of effecting the change for which we wait. We initially reach a point of questioning, "why am I losing sleep over this" until we arrive at the conclusion we are "somewhere in between." This place has many locales be it in between anger and forgiveness, sorrow and joy, or tumult and peace. Still, during these periods we find grace through the Philippians sense of working out our own salvation as we confront the obstacle in debating "what is real and just a dream."

In some sense, our entire lives are devoted to this Pauline task. Desmond Tutu told me at breakfast many years ago "There's only one way to eat an elephant- one bite at a time." This maxim is true for life. It is a point both obvious and inevitable in the song but it's instructive for anyone waiting, praying, seeking or yearning and finding themselves somewhere in between.



Somewhere in Between

I cant be losing sleep over this, no I can't
And now I can not stop pacing
Give me a few hours, I'll have all this sorted out
If my mind would just stop racing

Cause I cannot stand still
I cant be this unsturdy
This cannot be happening

This is over my head but underneath my feet
Cuz by tomorrow morning I'll have this thing beat
And everything will be back to the way that it was
I wish that it was just that easy

Cuz I'm waiting for tonight
Then waiting for tomorrow
And I'm somewhere in between
What is real, and just a dream
What is real, and just a dream
What is real, and just a dream

Would you catch me if I fall out of what I fell in
Don't be surprised if I collapse down at your feet again
I don't want to run away from this
I know that I just don't need this

Cause I cannot stand still
I can't be this unsturdy
This cannot be happening

Cuz I'm waiting for tonight
Then waiting for tomorrow
And I'm somewhere in between
What is real, and just a dream
What is real, and just a dream
What is real, and just a dream
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March 6, 2007

Song of the Week: Much Too Young To Feel This Damn Old

The Pax Plena song of the week comes to you courtesy of country music legend Garth Brooks and is titled Much Too Young To Feel This Damn Old.

It pretty much sums up life as a twenty-something but no one can sing it quite like Garth.


Much Too Young To Feel This Damn Old

This ol' highway's getting longer
Seems there ain't no end in sight
To sleep would be best, but I just can't afford to rest
I've got to ride in Denver tomorrow night

I called the house but no one answered
For the last two weeks no one's been home
I guess she's through with me, to tell the truth I just can't see
What's kept the woman holding on this long

And the white line's getting longer and the saddle's getting cold
I'm much too young to feel this damn old
All my cards are on the table with no ace left in the hole
I'm much too young to feel this damn old

The competition's getting younger
Tougher broncs, you know I can't recall
The worn out tape of Chris LeDoux, lonely women and bad booze
Seem to be the only friends I've left at all

And the white line's getting longer and the saddle's getting cold
I'm much too young to feel this damn old
All my cards are on the table with no ace left in the hole
I'm much too young to feel this damn old

Lord, I'm much too young to feel this damn old
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February 27, 2007

Song of the Week: This Side

The Pax Plena song of the week comes to you from progressive blue grass trio Nickel Creek and is titled This Side.

Written by violinist and background vocalist Sean Watkins the lyrics speak of transitioning from one phase of life to another and the uncomfortable uncertainties which accompany such segues. Despite its weighty subject matter, the song's message is ultimately one of optimism culminating in the final verse as the bard once again becomes content and at home amid change.

The song's power comes from the unique way in which lyrics and music work together to create the final product. The melody itself is up-beat but it would lack its optimistic quality if not for the harmony of the combined instruments which meld to create a strong, light sound. Written in a series of alternating major chords with a dissonant strains sprinkled about, the score would be hard to improve. The dissonant sounds are uniformly combinations of major, sharp chords which create a high-pitched disharmony- as opposed to a more dour sound heard among smatterings of minor chords say in Johnny Cash's Hurt, for example.

Vocally, the lead voice of the song undergoes its own transition. The early lyrics wistfully recall memories past and evokes feelings of regret and fear. But as the song progresses, the voice gets stronger along with the music and ultimately becomes a voice of optimism as he embraces a new future. Not unlike all of us in life.




This Side

One day you'll see her and you'll know what I mean.
Take her or leave her she will still be the same.
She'll not try to buy you with her time.
But nothing's the same, as you will see when she's gone.

It's foreign on this side,
And I'll not leave my home again.
There's no place to hide
And I'm nothing but scared.

You dream of colors that have never been made,
You imagine songs that have never been played.
They will try to buy you and your mind.
Only the curious have something to find.

It's foreign on this side,
And the truth is a bitter friend.
But reasons few have I to go back again.

Your first dawn blinded you, left you cursing the day.
Entrance is crucial and it's not without pain.
There's no path to follow, once you're here.
You'll climb up the slide and then you'll slide down the stairs.

It's foreign on this side,
But it feels like I'm home again.
There's no place to hide
But I don't think I'm scared.
(there's no place to hide)
(there's no place to hide)
But I don't think I'm scared.
(there's no place to hide)
But I don't think I'm scared...

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February 20, 2007

Song of the Week: Stand Back Up

The Pax Plena song of the week comes from the country music group Sugarland and is titled Stand Back Up.

There's no need for deep analysis with this one, folks. The message of the song is simple and profound: sometimes life throws an unexpected punch or two and there's nothing one can do to avoid the impact or pain.

But the song reminds us that our inner temerity and determination are enough to get us through the darkness of any situation and indeed we can do all things through the Source of our strength. Whether you are dealing with a seasonal affective disorder (believe it or not, a real malady) or if you're just going through a rough spot, Sugarland's ballad is sure to inspire.

Musically, the song is as simple as its message. It is played with a clear, lone acoustic guitar. The sound becomes haunting in places as the strumming drives home the melody at just the right points. The lyrics are superbly delivered and the singer's voice couldn't be better. It is almost a performance of necessity-any weakness in the singer's voice would ultimately destroy the message of the song. Sugarland more than overcomes any such deficiency.



Stand Back Up

Go ahead and take your best shot
Let 'er rip, give it all you've got
I'm laid out on the floor, but I've been here before
I may stumble, yeah I might fall
I'm only human but aren't we all
I might lose my way, but hear me when I say

I will stand back up
You'll know just the moment when I've have enough
Sometimes I'm afraid, and I dont feel that tough
But I'll stand back up

I've been beaten up and bruised
I've been kicked right off my shoes
Been down on my knees more times than you'd believe
When the darkness tries to get me
There's a light that just won't let me
It might take my pride, and my tears may fill my eyes
But I'll stand back up

I've weathered all these stroms,
But I just turn them into wind, so I can fly
What don't kill you makes you stronger
When I take my last breath
Thats when I'll just give up

So, go ahead to take your best shot
Let 'er rip, give it all you've got
You might win this round but you can't keep me down

'Cause I'll stand back up
And you'll know just the moment when I've had enough
Sometimes I'm afraid and I don't feel that tough
But I'll stand back up

You'll know just the moment when I've had enough
Sometimes I'm afraid and I don't feel that tough
But I'll stand back up
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February 13, 2007

Song of the Week: Opportunity of a Lifetime

Bucking the recent trend in calling St. Valentine's Day "Singles Awareness Day", this single has opted to mark the occasion by posting a song for the amorously inclined. And looking through my library of music, nothing expresses romance quite like Darryl Worley's Opportunity of a Lifetime.

It's by no means the most famous country love song. But there's just something about it that captures the innocence of young love and the vitality and optimism it creates for the couple. Long before the personality conflicts and pessimism start to creep into a relationship, love offers folks an opportunity to willfully be optimistic for the future and the start of something new. The song brings these feelings of new love to mind.

Musically, the song has just a hint of Western swing that actually reminds me of lazy summers fishing and driving along the back roads with someone you love. While the song is definitely more traditional than some contemporary artists it's one that fits well in a country play list especially during the summer months.






Opportunity of a Lifetime

Big brown eyes, soft red lips
I'm thinkin' I could get used to this
This could be the opportunity of a lifetime

My heart melts when you whisper my name
I've got a feeling if you're feeling the same
This could be the opportunity of a lifetime

I don't need to travel the world
Chase after rainbows, I'm telling you girl
There's so many things that I'd rather do
Like wakin' up each morning with you

We've got a chance at a real true love
We'd have to be crazy to pass it up
This could be the opportunity of a lifetime

I can just see us sittin' there
Front porch swing with gray in our hair
I know it seems like a lifetime away
But we could get started today

We've got a chance at a real true love
We'd have to be crazy to pass it up
This could be the opportunity of a lifetime
Oh yes-sir-ee, this could be
The opportunity of a lifetime
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February 6, 2007

Song of the Week: Lay It Down

Having been back for a couple of weeks now, I've decided to take a cue from the venerable Joe Malchow over at Dartblog and introduce a song of the week series here at Pax Plena.

Rather than being consistently from one artist or genre, the Pax Plena song of the week will come from the one song which has most set the tenor for my week.  This week's selection comes from seven time Dove award winning artist Jaci Velasquez and is titled Lay It Down (Note: the series will not necessarily be religiously themed). 

We joke around a lot here and poke fun at liberals in both debate and jest.  But Velasquez's lyrics remind even the most ardent partisan that sometimes life becomes more than we would prefer to bear.  In those instances, the best course, as the song warmly commends, is to entrust the situation to the Author of life's plan and lay the burden down.  A dear friend once remarked, "when we can't, God can." That is the song's message in brief.  It has been a tremendous strength to me the past several weeks.

Beneath the lyrics you will find a YouTube link to a performance by Velasquez on an American religious programming station.  Please, ignore the commentary at the beginning and enjoy her rendition of the song.



Lay It Down
By Jaci Velasquez
I've been lookin' till my eyes are tired of lookin'
Listenin' till my ears are numb from listenin'
Prayin' till my knees are sore from kneelin' on the bedroom floor
I know that you know that my heart is achin'
I'm running out of tears and my will is breakin'
I don't think that I can carry the burden of it anymore
All of my hopes and my dreams and my best laid plans,
Are slowly slippin' through my folded hands

Chorus
So I'm gonna lay it down
I'm gonna learn to trust You now
What else can I do?
Cause everything I am depends on You
And if the sun don't come back up
I know Your love will be enough
I'm gonna let it be, I'm gonna let it go,
I'm gonna lay it down.

I've been walkin' through this world like I'm barely livin'
Buried in the doubt of this hole I've been diggin'
But You're pullin' me out
I'm finally breathin' in the open air
This room may be dark but I'm finally seein'
There's a new ray of hope, and now I'm believin'
That the past is past, and the future's beginning to look brighter now
Oh, cause all of my hopes and my dreams and my best laid plans
Are safe and secure when I place them in Your hands

So I'm gonna lay it down
I'm gonna learn to trust You now
Oh what else can I do,
Cause everything I am depends on You
And if the sun don't come back up
I know Your love will be enough
I'm gonna let it be, I'm gonna let it go,
I'm gonna lay it down
I'm gonna lay it down
I'm gonna lay it down
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