A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Archive for the ‘Video’ Category

[ISL] Five articles from the Toronto Islands in this time of flood

  • blogTO shares Aidan Ferreira’s stunning photos of the Toronto Islands flooded out. The damage, especially to the beaches, looks severe.
  • CTV News shares remarkable drone footage of the Toronto Islands.
  • The Toronto Sun reports on the plight of the water taxi operators, unable to earn their living this summer with trips to the Islands.
  • The Toronto Star‘s Fatima Syed notes that, to stay afloat, the Centreville Amusement Park will be selling its beautiful antique carousel.
  • Katharine Laidlaw’s interviews in Toronto Life with Toronto Islanders tell the story of a very hard year.

Written by Randy McDonald

July 21, 2017 at 6:30 pm

[MUSIC] Bruce Cockburn, “Lovers In A Dangerous Time”

Possibly Canadian folksinger Bruce Cockburn‘s signature song, his 1984 single “Lovers In A Dangerous Time” amply deserves its fame. It’s a strong song, deserving its top ranking on any number of lists of top Canadian love songs, the poetry of Cockburn’s lyrics carried by the urgency of his vocals.

This song arguably achieved greater fame outside of Canada by virtue of the Barenaked Ladies’ later cover. That cover is decent, I grant, but it lacks Cockburn’s signature urgency. Cockburn wrote this song, like other songs at this time, in the context of the Cold War, in his concern for refugees from Latin America. (I read somewhere that he was thinking of couples caught up in Argentina’s then recently-concluded dirty war.) Other critics linked this song to the emergence HIV/AIDS crisis. The Barenaked Ladies’ cover is light, too light–their Scarborough might have been boring, but it was not that bad. Cockburn understood perfectly that love matters, even especially when times were difficult, and his performance gets this across wonderfully.

These fragile bodies of touch and taste
This vibrant skin, this hair like lace
Spirits open to the thrust of grace
Never a breath you can afford to waste

When you’re lovers in a dangerous time
Lovers in a dangerous time

When you’re lovers in a dangerous time
Lovers in a dangerous time

When you’re lovers in a dangerous time
Sometimes you’re made to feel as if your love’s a crime
But nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight
Got to kick at the darkness ’til it bleeds daylight

Written by Randy McDonald

June 29, 2017 at 11:59 pm

[MUSIC] Pet Shop Boys, “Single-Bilingual”

The Pet Shop Boys’ 1996 song “Single-Bilingual” was not as big a hit as their iconic global singles of the 1980s. Perhaps it was because this song, like the rest of their album Bilingual, was a shift from their previous European-styled electronica, incorporating Latin rhythms. This is a shame, because this song and others are among the group’s slyest.

The songs of the Pet Shop Boys, like those of all great songwriters, can say many things. See “Single-Bilingual”. Listening to the peppy song, Neil Tennant singing in the voice of a self-styled cosmopolitan businessman who claims to be the master of his world, there is humour. As Wayne Studer points out, this man is not all he thinks he is. He’s just a cog in the machine.

They call this a community
I like to think of it as home
Arriving at the airport
I am going it alone
Ordering a boarding pass
Travelling in business class
This is the name of the game
I’m single, bilingual
Single, bilingual

I find myself wondering, too, if this song fits on the soundtrack for Brexit. From a pretended cosmopolitanism down to an actual solitude?

Written by Randy McDonald

June 22, 2017 at 11:59 pm

[MUSIC] Sia feat. Labrinth, “To Be Human”

I went with a friend to catch Wonder Woman yesterday, and I left impressed. This film caught my attention, with excellent plotting and filming and a star-making turn from Gal Gadot. I can easily believe it capable of supporting the future DC cinematic universe, though I hope it will not have to do so alone.

The song that played over the closing credit was Sia and Labrinth‘s “To Be Human”. This song, all about the limits to love that we know in our world, was a good choice.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 8, 2017 at 11:56 pm

[MUSIC] Robert Miles, “Children”

The CD single of Robert Miles’ “Children” is one of the first singles I had ever bought, on (I think) one of my family’s shopping daytrips to the mainland, to Moncton. There we could buy canned pop, or French-language books, or CD singles.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 11, 2017 at 11:57 pm

[MUSIC] Annie Lennox, Diva

A Eurythmics fan group on Facebook just reminded me that today, the 6th of April, is the 25th anniversary of the release of Annie Lennox’s solo debut, Diva.

Wow.

Much of the video album, directed by long-time collaborator Sophie Muller who was also responsible for the exquisite 1986 Savage video album, is viewable here. I blogged about one track from Diva, “Little Bird”, back in 2008. A lot of the tracks–“Why?”, “Walking on Broken Glass”, “Legend in my Living Room”, all of them really–deserve extended commentaries of their own.

What can I say about Diva but that this album is one of the highlights of the career of an artist who has been hugely influential in my life? Without seeing “No More I Love Yous” on MuchMusic back in 1995, I can imagine that I might have gone into the sciences rather than the arts. Lennox’s music has been a constant throughout my life, with its art and its poise and its personality. My life is much the better for having had it.

Thanks, Annie.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 6, 2017 at 10:57 pm

[MUSIC] Grimes, “Kill V. Maim”

The Grimes song “Kill V. Maim” is one I’ve been playing a lot this week, with its video set partly in Toronto’s abandoned Lower Bay Station and a threateningly manic song with a chorus–“Are you going to the party?/Are you going to the show?”–inspired by Godfather‘s Al Pacino and by Harley Quinn.

Grimes, a.k.a. Claire Boucher, appears on the latest episode of the “Song Exploder” podcast, a must-listen for music fans who want to hear their fave artists talk about how they created their own songs. In it, Grimes breaks down her thrashing Art Angels cut “Kill V. Maim,” revealing the impetus of it was a friend who doubted her ability to be musically aggressive.

“He kept doing these cute little plucky things, and I was like ‘No, no, let’s make a hard song.’ He was like ‘No, no, you make cute music.’ I was so horrified,” Grimes recalls. “So I went home after that sort of wanting to prove that I could make something that’s going to be really aggressive that I would want to play during an action sequence in a movie.”

After that, she set out to make something that could soundtrack the trailer for a fictional crossover of The Godfather and Twilight. Add in a lot of kick drums, some cleverly buried samples of cheering crowds, and what Grimes calls a “scary, demon chorus” inspired by Harley Quinn, and you have “Kill V. Maim,” which she reveals is “probably my favorite song I’ve ever made.”

Written by Randy McDonald

March 2, 2017 at 11:53 pm