Mustering Memories through Songs (part 3)

Mustering Memories through Songs (part 3)

Here are some more old and new songs that I love listening to, primarily because I love how they sound like and what they sing about and, secondarily, because of their power to pull old memories and to create new ones.

“Welcome to the Jungle” (1987) by Guns N’ Roses

While he and I were feasting on the pizza that I bought on my way back home after meeting a friend one Saturday afternoon, Evawwen asked me, “Daddy, may you play ‘Welcome to the Jungle’?”

I asked, “What band?”

He replied, “Guns N’ Roses.”

I ended up playing the entire Appetite for Destruction, which contained “Welcome to the Jungle,” reminding me that I was 16 when this album came out and when Axl Rose, Slash, and the rest of the band catapulted to mainstream Metal popularity with just the strength of “Sweet Child o’ Mine.” And that I was already deep into music and a part of the Metro Manila music scene when Guns N’ Roses and other Metal bands invaded the commercial music scene. Great times!

Wow, one more year and Guns N’ Roses’ debut album will be 30 years already!

“D’yah know where you are? You’re in the jungle, baby; you’re gonna die!”

“Harper Lee” (2016) by Suzanne Vega
Here’s another track from Suzanne Vega’s newly released, ninth album, Lover, Beloved: Songs from an Evening with Carson McCullers, which is based on a play, thus the overall theatrical and vaudeville feel of the sound of the album, sprinkled with Vega’s inevitable trademark Folk Pop sensibilities.

With its characteristic horn melody and piano flourishes, “Harper Lee” harks to the rustic sound of 1950s old Jazz. Harper Lee was the author of the 1960-published novel To Kill a Mockingbird.

This Jazz sound takes me back to my ’70s childhood, when music by the likes of Charles Mingus (“Profile of Jackie”), Thelonious Monk (“Monk’s Mood”), and Duke Ellington (“The Mooche”), were regular staples on our record player every time some old uncles were visiting with their priced vinyl records ready to be shared with all of us. It also faintly resonates the playfulness of ’60s female-sung Pop tunes like Margo Guryan’s “Someone I Know,” Cilla Black’s “Work Is a Four-Letter Word,” and Sandie Shaw’s “Heaven Knows I’m Missing Him Now.”

“…From across the Kitchen Table” (1985) by The Pale Fountains
A snowy Sunday outside, but Evawwen and I are warmly tucked in our humble abode, so it’s a beautiful day after all.

And since that we slept in, enjoying the school-less and work-less weekend, we woke up at around 10 a.m. already.

Evawwen asked, “Daddy, may you make pancakes and cook bacon?”

So, I stood up, went to the washroom to perk myself up, then played some music, and started working in the kitchen.

The first song played today: “…From across the Kitchen Table” by The Pale Fountains.

The Pale Fountains was a British band that released two studio albums, Pacific Street (1984) and …From across the Kitchen Table (1985). Other recommended songs include “Crazier,” “Reach,” “Jean’s Not Happening,” “Thank You,” “These Are the Things,” and “Palm of My Hand.”

“To the Rescue” (2016) by The Divine Comedy

One of the bands that I discovered during the emergence of the Britpop music scene in the 1990s was The Divine Comedy. What attracted me to this Northern Irish band’s music is the lush, orchestral character of the songs—an epitome of Baroque Pop or, more generally, Orchestral Pop or Classical New Wave.

Since then, I’ve followed the discographic releases of the band, along with similar-sounding bands such as Belle & Sebastian, Beulah, My Life Story, and Blur.

I remember back in the 1990s, when the Internet was not yet a commercially accessible and available tool, I usually relied on friends who were fellow music enthusiasts, music magazines, and record stores for my dose of music. I always hunted for the albums of these bands.

Formed in 1989, in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, The Divine Comedy has released 11 studio albums, from 1990’s Fanfare for the Comic Muse to the newly released Foreverland.

And “To the Rescue” is my instant favorite off this new album by Neil Hannon and the rest of The Divine Comedy.

“The King of Kissingdom” (1997) by My Life Story

By the late ’90s, the mainstream sparkle of what many came to regard as Britpop music was waning. Despite that, my ears were still attuned to the kind of music that I’ve come to consider simply the linear continuation of the Baroque Pop and Art Rock of the ’60s through the New Wave of the ’80s, including all their offshoots and related subgenres. Because of this, I have never been deprived of releases that may be classified under this kind of music.

The ’90s-released music of My Life Story was among what defined also my heyday in that decade. I still remember how I would spend hours hanging out with friends just to share with each other our latest finds or discoveries, talking about bands like Belle & Sebastian, Northside, The Essence, The Divine Comedy, and My Life Story. Remember, those were pre-Internet days!

“The King of Kissingdom” is another favorite of mine from Jake Shillingford and the rest of My Life Story, from this British group’s second album, 1997’s The Golden Mile.

“Do they Know It’s Christmas” (1984) by Band Aid

Finally, because it’s the Christmas season, here is my most-favorite Christmas-related song. This collaborative single was recorded on November 25, 1984, by a collective of personalities associated with the Pop and New Wave genres of the decade when it was released, including members of Culture Club, Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, U2, The Police, The Boomtown Rats, Ultravox, The Style Council, Bananarama, Heaven 17, Kool & the Gang, Status Quo, and Wham!

I was in Better Living Subdivision, in Parañaque City, Philippines, at the house of my del Prado–Aranzamendez relatives when I first saw the music video of this on MTV. It was a big deal for a New Wave music enthusiast such as I was/am to see members of many of my favorite New Wave bands performing together in the same song, and it’s a Christmas song! My cousins and I were really excited that moment. We were glued onto the T.V. set. Afterwards, we always waited for MTV to play the song again that Christmas season in the early ’80s. A cousin of mine ended up buying a copy of the single in vinyl-record format.

Final Note

Many people claim that the music of their respective generation is always the best. Not really. Actually, the beauty of music is often subjective and personal.

Every song becomes memorable to the individual listener in a very special way because of the personal experiences and memories that he has associated with or will begin to attribute to such songs. Thus, when a person cries or smiles as she hears a song—it’s not really because of the song—rather, it was because of the particular memories that played in her mind as she heard the song.