Saturday, April 08, 2017

the traditional Easter mix


Should you happen to be reading this around the time I have published it and you live in a nation what has Christianity or variant thereof as its basis for a calendar then it's quite likely you are making preparations for the days demarcated as marking Easter. Indeed yes I am doing this, look you see, and as usual I am sharing some of my preparations with you.

These preparations are not, to be sure, of an overtly religious nature. Should you have been contemplating departing under the potential for that to have been the case then please stick around, for it's some Easter themed vibes - modern (ish) vibes too - that will be at the heart of this post.

For how long have I been making a traditional Easter mix, which is a collection of songs which in theme celebrate Easter? As long ago as this year I started. When I made my usual Christmas mix on some styled red vinyl blank CDs I mentioned to my sister that one could also get green and what I thought was yellow. She said that I should get some yellow ones and make an Easter mix. So, here we are.

Yes, dear reader, yes. I will accept and acknowledge that they are rather more faded gold, or if you like bronze, than yellow. Still, without being expert in such things, it is closer to yellow than the black, red or green blank CDs would be, so they will do.

After getting the blank discs it was left to me to find some 80 minutes of popular music which, in one way or another, related to Easter. This was not easy. I managed, though, after trawling through my extensive or if you like exhaustive collection.

Should for some reason you wish to make your own Easter mix, based on the one I compiled and sent to selected parties, here are the tracks I selected, along with some notes as to why they are on. I would think some are obvious, some perhaps less so.

If the "streaming" service of your choice has some or all of these songs available as a licenced thing for you to play then so much the better. Should that not be the case, then I dare say you can find all of these on that "You Tube" thing, or perhaps you might wish to consider just purchasing the CDs of the songs you like the look or sound of the most.

Francis Monkman - Main Title

As in the main title from the motion picture The Long Good Friday, information which I trust instantly clarified why it is on an Easter mix tape that is a CD. Classic song for a classic film. I believe the kids call it “earworming” when you hear a piece of music that you seem to hum or have on repeat in your mind for the remainder of that particular day. Behold, for this does that.

Cat Stevens - Morning Has Broken

For those of us dwelling north of the equator, or if you like equatorial line, Easter is indelibly linked to Spring. Kind of. This is the song you want to be hearing as those Spring days break free from Winter. Beautiful song, beautifully sung.

U2 - I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For

Bono and his band are undeniably the go-to group to vent populist hatred towards these days. Want to feel like you fit in with the faceless, mundane millions? Learn to type, take to Twitter, write about how Bono is a wanker and should pay more tax [despite the fact that you are not 100% sure why, or how much he pays] and maybe some people will click “like” or whatever and then everything’s better in your world.

Meanwhile, this is included here as rarely has an artist bared their soul and spiritual dilemma in the form of a pop song quite like this. Listen to the lyrics, man.

Peter Gabriel - Solsbury Hill

The first of not three but two appearances by Ped Gabes on this mix, this one being perhaps or arguably the least obvious, considering the other.

Ostensibly this song is Gabriel’s metaphorical comment on leaving the prog rock group Genesis, but obviously one listen and you can see, no hear, no feel, it goes way, way deeper than that. It just feels right on this mix.

David Bowie - Word On A Wing

In a world where every album he did after 1993 was called “the best and most important one since Scary Monsters”, there’s a present day assumption that Bowie’s religious imagery on Blackstar was something new and all down to the fact that he was facing death. This idea is somewhat compounded by the fact that one of his last “public” actions was to “follow God” on that there Twitter thing. The truth is exploring spirituality and his own wrestles with faith and religion had been pretty much a part of Bowie’s art from the start.

A quite rare instance of Bowie speaking frankly, humbly and quite prostrate, this song. This ode to seeking understanding and the embrace of faith stems, to his own admission, from the darkest days of his cocaine fuelled paranoid mid-70s. Leaving that understanding aside, this one really does have beautiful lyrics.

Pet Shop Boys - It's A Sin

Fairly obvious inclusion from the title, I would imagine. Lyrically the Pet Shop Boys have always been on the deeper side of deep, a “bit too clever” for some critics, one suspect. The theme explored here is that no matter what you think or do, someone somewhere will consider it a sin of sorts. Quite ahead of its time in that respect then, as in this day and age one can hardly say or think a thing without someone declaring it to be some form of –ist or –ism, be it passive or aggressive.

Depeche Mode - Personal Jesus

Considering there’s a similar themed song later on I very nearly went with Blasphemous Rumours off of the Basildon Boys, but it just didn’t feel quite right.

At face value it’s commentary on that fancy, la-de-dah television Evangelism that was rather big business over in America in the 80s and 90s, and quite possibly is today. It’s a song you can take a lot of meanings from, though, and there’s something positively haunting about the way Dave Gahan sings “reach out and touch faith”.

The Beatles - Ballad Of John And Yoko

Yes, mostly in for the “the way things are going they’re going to crucify me” line. More so the reason behind it, though. This song came in the wake of the infamous “Beatles are more popular than Jesus” comment and controversy. It wasn’t the first time popular culture found itself in a debate about Christianity in particular or religion in general, but it was the first time, perhaps, that pop music was. A “game changer”, if you will.

Simple Minds - Belfast Child

Not sure I can get the words right to quantify the inclusion of this one, really. Just a beautiful song that felt right. Lyrically, to me, it always felt like a longing, a sense of loss, giving way to hope of return, restoration, yes resurrection maybe.

John Prine - Jesus The Missing Years

Thrown in as my Dad will be a recipient of the Easter Mix tape (that is a CD) and he really likes John Prine.

Bob Dylan - Knockin' On Heaven's Door

I did briefly consider putting the infamous Warren Zevon recording of this song on, but why not just go with the Dylan original.

A strictly incidental, segue like whimsical song for the soundtrack of Pat Garrett & Billy The Kidd that for some reason has been picked up on by the likes of Zevon and, perhaps more famously, Guns N Roses.

Is it really an Easter song? No, I suppose not, it just felt like it slotted in here.

Genesis - Jesus He Knows Me

The second song ostensibly to do with the phenomenon of TV Evangelists in America, but unlike the Depeche Mode one not a tune open all that much in the way of different interpretations.

Again, probably not overtly an Easter song as such, but then again a good mix has something thrown in for all, and I have every reason to suspect this is a popular song amongst the atheist set.

Original CastSuperstar

As in Jesus Christ Superstar, with the version used on the mix being from the original “rock opera” rather than the subsequent stage production or film versions.

I would not have thought I’d need to spell out exactly why this song was included on an Easter mix, yeah?

Prince - The Cross

The song that made absolutely certain just about all aspects of life were covered by the genius in his most genius work, 1987’s Sign O The Times.

Many musicians have been blasted for “hypocrisy” for proclaiming a deep faith and living the rock and roll lifestyle. None more than Prince, perhaps. What people don’t get, I think, is that having faith, having belief, does not mean a strict adherence to the rules, regulations and expectations of organized religion.

Strange. In 1987 Prince had a massive audience around the world. That he elected to stray from the safe and convey his faith to them, us as I was one of the many, says much of the depth and strength, indeed the courage of his convictions.

Tin Machine - Bus Stop

Less than two minutes of the boys in the band having fun.

The Stone Roses - I Am The Resurrection

I’ve written so much about this band and this song in particular that I fear there is so very little else to say. If you can be pestered to search through this blog, then read of the euphoria I felt at Heaton Park when they did this; a euphoria that thousands felt with me and one that gives me goosebumps to think back on to this day.

Peter Gabriel - It Is Accomplished

From the album Passion, the soundtrack for the brilliant – and to this day controversial – Martin Scorsese film The Last Temptation Of Christ.

This track, as the name suggests perhaps, comes from the conclusion of the film.. If you have not seen the movie, firstly you are missing out, but mostly it concentrates on just how the Devil may have tempted Jesus to step down from the Cross and not die for the sin of man.

I remember seeing the film at the Dovecot in Stockton, thanks to a very dear and very much missed film taking me along. Also, I was some 2 – 3 years below the required minimum age one should have been to see the movie. I must have looked older, and I do remember someone off of the radio interviewing me after it. Probably one of my first ever radio appearances, if not the first. Quite a few, in answer to your question about how many I have made.

Monty Python - Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life

Well what else was I going to finish this mix off with? Again from a soundtrack but from a film quite different to the penultimate track here.

In terms of the English way of doing things, surely there is none more personification of the English sense of humour than to have a group of people being crucified singing this song.

Should for some reason you be unaware of much of any of the above, Monty Python’s Life Of Brian is the film you should be looking for. Perhaps to watch this Easter.

And there you have it, then. Do I have any particular favourites in the above? Well, for those what no me an obvious one or two, but mostly I really like, if not flat love, all of the ones gathered together here today. Mostly I would say regret at ones I could not find space for or simply didn't exist. Of the many Gospel recordings of The King, Elvis Presley, for example, I could not find one which He did that seemed apt for an Easter mix. Egg Man by Beastie Boys came close, but it would have just upset Dad. Further, it was with sadness that I could find nothing suitable by Art Garfunkel, Warren Zevon or Harry Nilsson to put on, although certain religious reasons would probably factor for at least one of them.

Well, that's that. Should you celebrate the days of it may your Easter be peaceful. If not, then may your days over the time be just as equally peaceful.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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