Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A Soundtrack for Love

This might just be another one of my many disorderly reveries, but I just had the idea of creating a soundtrack of "appropriate" songs that track the progress of a romance, a collection of proper musical cues that mark specific moments during the course of a relationship. In this instance, it's the tale of a relationship that starts off promisingly enough, but eventually veers off into something more oblique and inexplicable. I suppose the songs themselves tell the story better than I do, so here goes:

1. ONE - Filter
Originally a hippie-ish rambler by Three Dog Night, Richard Patrick of Filter turns this late-1960s chestnut into a slow-burning industrial-rock lament that bristles with rightful doses of angst and resentment, a perfect song to vent your catharsis to. One is the loneliest number, indeed.

2. YOU AND YOUR SISTER - This Mortal Coil
A deceptively simple number that hides its narrative of romantic psychosis behind a gentle, circular guitar figure and layered harmonies, this Big Star standard is given strange new life by the dream-pop collective This Mortal Coil, featuring suitably wispy vocals by Tanya Donelly and Kim Deal of The Breeders.

3. SOMETHING'S GOTTEN HOLD OF MY HEART - Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds
Gene Pitney's classic tale of unrequited love is infused with a degree of understated menace by Goth icon Nick Cave and his band of merry men, playing like the alternate theme to a forgotten French new-wave flick.

4. BRIGHTNESS FALLS - David Sylvian and Robert Fripp
Avant-pop veteran David Sylvian teams up with experimental-guitar legend Robert Fripp for a six-minute behemoth constructed from measured guitar pyrotechnics and desperate, yearning vocals, detailing in perhaps too-intimate detail the slow-motion breakdown of a faltering romance.

5. HALLELUJAH - Jeff Buckley
The late Buckley's emotive reading of the Leonard Cohen classic is a hushed, pensive rendition that casts the tale in a mournful new dimension, constituting just about the perfect song to play during those dark, lonely nights of doubt and loathing.

6. COME HERE MY LOVE - Van Morrison
Another haunted, quiet, acoustic-led number, a forgotten gem from Van the Man that resonates with hesitant hope and controlled emotional upheaval.

7. SEPTEMBER 13 - Stephen Cummings
A wonderfully bleak composition that marries standard singer-songwriter pop and ambient atmospherics, a brilliant narration of the indefinable sensitivities of that significant other.

8. TWENTY FOUR HOURS - Joy Division
Unremittingly spooky and filled to the brim with lyrical images of utter despair and devastating hopelessness, this black-tiled cathedral of a song is practically romantic anguish defined.

9. WHAT IS THIS LOVE - Blue Rodeo
An epic, funereal dirge that could very well, through its songwords, sum up the overall condition of this relationship.

10. MOONLIGHT SONATA - Alan Wilder
Depeche Mode's ace multi-instrumentalist Alan Wilder provides a careful, considered interpretation of the first movement of Beethoven's deathless Piano Sonata No. 14, one of the few musical compositions that prove that sometimes words aren't needed to express the inarticulate speech of the heart.

11. GREY CLOUDS - Dominic Harlan
A sort of a sequel to the earlier Ludwig melody, this little-known work by Franz Lizst is given a correctly unsettled and austere recitation by sessionist pianist Dominic Harlan. A perfect song for cloudy, grey afternoons (hence the title).

12. PINK ORANGE RED (Twinlights Version) - Cocteau Twins
This acoustically inclined reworking of the spacey, heartbreaking lamentation by dream-pop luminaries Cocteau Twins is a brooding, meditative tune that benefits from the strategic placements of gentle vibraphones and stately piano chords.

13. REVERSING - Ryuichi Sakamoto
Sakamoto's stop-start pentatonic style is virtuosically demonstrated on this peaceful, settled composition. In terms of the ongoing relationship, it's an appropriately inconclusive coda that suggests that it is left open to varying degrees of interpretation.


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