Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Flashing Lights (ights, ights)

"Downtown Lights" - Leonid Afremov
"You see, I'm a bonafide city girl." - SJP in SATC (crack that code)

And, I really am! I love the city; I love everything about it. That's not to discount the country and the tranquil beauty of a rural area - but I have an obsession with the energy, diversity and look of a brightly lit, tall-standing city. To me, there's nothing like it. I walk everywhere nowadays and my particular routes cover a lot of good ground in the downtown. At dawn, the streets are hush, shiny with frost and the city lights bounce off them. At night, I'm walking again and the traffic roars while the sun fades. Two wonderful times to be marching along, music plugged in, head in the clouds.

I associate certain songs best with the city and, as I've covered before, I associate others better with a long drive in the country. But it's the great "city" or "downtown" songs that often grab me - they're indpendent and thrilling in their sound, whether fast or slow, and I can always put my finger on one when I hear it. For me, it's kind of like I envision certain song titles in front of a jagged skyline with neon lights flashing around them.

A few classics are:

1. The City - Joe Purdy: A unique city song in that it's slow and simple in it's make-up. Purdy's raspy longing vocals resemble Counting Crows lead Adam Duritz and perfectly accompany the layered guitar, shaker percussion and tinkering piano. The song's message about rolling with the punches both in city-living and love is made clear in the tempo and breathtaking wind-down at the end. "We were hiding from the rain/ We were riding on the train/ She was dancing on the midway, just kissing my face."

2. Hard to Live (In the City) - Albert Hammond Jr. - Off The Strokes' guitarist's debut album Yours to Keep, this track is multi-faceted and straight off the downtown pavement. The song completely changes directions from a garage-rock love song with a cute concept, to a horn-heavy Mardi Gras jam that's the jolly cherry on top of an already great tune. I love anything that is spun out of those Strokes boys.

3. I'm On Fire - Bruce Springsteen:  Bruce. The Boss. My main man. The man behind the legend. Singing a distant tale of desire, passion and darkness in a confusing city. Between his latently sexual message, the soft synth beat and the absolutely classic 80s music video (the man knew how to tell a story), this song screams old-school Boss. "At night I wake up with the sheets soaking wet/ And a freight train running through the middle of my head/ But you, you cool my desire/ Oh, I'm on fire."

4. Searchlight - Young Galaxy: Last, but certainly not least. This sweet, up-tempo track from Stephen Ramsay (of Stars) and his indie-pop solo band is probably one of my favourite songs to stroll with in the city winter. Or just maybe one of my favourite songs...ever! Figuratively, the song is like a little cup of hot chocolate on an otherwise freezing day. Literally, it's the familiar story of hoping for an old love to come back and keep you warm on a chilly city night. And to top it all off, this song has one of my all-time favourite lyrics. I don't know why and never have, but I adore it: "Under the parklights, I remember the feeling of your hands up under my jacket." Something about the way Ramsay utters that lyric is just a little piece of heaven, and I always find myself re-playing from 1:09 to 1:25 in the song. Follow the link above, you'll hear.

1 comment:

  1. Jess!
    I've just had the time to go through your blog, and wow it is soooo fabulous. I love it so much.
    I learnt a lot about getting sites on the map at my last job, so I'd love to help you get more exposure if you're into that :)
    You're so very talented and lovely. I can't get enough.
    Love you to biiitss and keep it up.