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The raving thoughts of a misanthropic academic

May 14, 2008

Song of the Week: The Imperial March

In hopes of numbing the pain of finals, I recently watched all six episodes of the Star Wars saga for the first time (ever). I had my doubts. How could something parodied by every comedian since Gary Coleman be worth its social billing?

Nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised. The stalwart cultural franchise was well worth the time invested. But what struck me most in the wake was the saga's score by John Williams- particularly The Imperial March. So much so, that The Imperial March easily earns the title, Pax Plena Song of the Week.

For those in need of motivation to study, open up iTunes. Download the song. Put the track on repeat. Listen to it while en route to your exam. The effect is almost like navigating an Imperial Star Destroyer in traffic. The tune should be enough to set you on attack mode as you prepare to annihilate the test (or your prof).

What makes The Imperial March interesting is John Williams' adept use of leitmotif in crafting the score. Every time Darth Vader appears on screen some variation of The Imperial March melody is played. Of course, the same is true for other characters but their tunes are not nearly so frightening.

Here's why: the famous, opening melody of the song does a fantastic job of blending the introductory chords with the subsequent chords in a mini-crescendo. These initial sounds are then contrasted with the quiet strains that follow in the middle. Naturally, the two melodies regroup after the pianissamo movement to engage in a bit of musical banter while building to a powerful crescendo at the end. The final product is the sheer terror of sound when the melody concludes. It almost makes you fear for Captain Needa's life. No other song in the entire series is so powerful.

One quirky point of note: Many have disagreed with me (even those who have been recent guests in the viewing), but whenever I listen to The Imperial March I hear the Mary Poppins tune in the second movement of the song. For those who recall this embarrassing movie of youth, the words from Mary Poppins that I hear in The Imperial March are "a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down, the medicine go down." Does anyone else hear it?

At least one other person does...

Enjoy!



Darth Vader meets Mary Poppins?

Darth Poppins
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May 7, 2008

Song of the Week: Come On Joe

George Strait has proven to be the best medicine for the gloom of finals. I can't say why but there's really just something about his brand of country music that delivers a great back drop for studying.

It's kind of like being at home in Oklahoma, but not really.

Anyway, for the musically inclined but academically afflicted, the Pax Plena song of the week delivers the perfect ambiance while cracking the books. For the deep southerners, it might even remind you of a night on the bayou.

In terms of lyrics, I won't belabor what should rightfully be listened to, but I will quickly add that the lyrics tell a fun if not morose story. It goes to show, one never knows what to expect on a 'six pack high' and a full moon.

Direct from George Strait's top country album in 2006, It Just Comes Natural, please enjoy the Pax Plena Song of the Week, Come on Joe.

Lyrics and goodies follow after the jump.



Come on Joe
by George Strait

Well, it's a long, hot night
And the stars are shining kinda extra bright
Sitting on the back porch glidin'
Whetting my appetite

Well, I'm a six-pack high
And start missing the light of my baby's eyes
Wasn't it beautiful, the kind of a soul they said would never die

Well, it's muggy in the shack
And the backwoods are black
'Cause the clouds hid the moon away
The light from my cigarette flickers in the dark
The only way she knows I'm here
Then suddenly the sounds of the fiddles and accordions
Sweetly begin to play and I can almost hear her sweet voice say

Chorus:
Come on Joe, just count to ten
Pull yourself together again
And come on Joe, you gotta get hold of this mood you're in
Come on Joe, you gotta be strong
You're still young and life goes on to carry on
'Til we're together again

Hey, I know she's right
But it's hard to fight when you're hurtin' so
I tried to walk out of that door before but I just can't go
With the tears and the laughter in every rafter in every room
Wasn't it beautiful
Wasn't it the kind of happiness and glow

Chorus

Come on Joe
Hey, come on Joe
To carry on 'til we're together again

Addendum: If you need a bit of hilarity on your Wednesday, check out the country line dance video to the Pax Plena song of the week below. Aside from the first thirty seconds where the instructor stands there awkwardly, it's really not a bad lesson.

What's the catch? This "muziek" video is in Dutch so it could be a drop difficult to understand! Country line dancing in Amsterdam? Fair enough. I guess they're no worse at dancing in Amsterdam than the beginners are back in Dallas.

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