This album is less personal than some of the group’s more recent releases. Lyrically, the focus is on status-obsessed characters (mostly unattainable women) of the sort one probably meets a lot in the band’s hometown, Versailles, France. The album’s strongest points are its swaggering grooves.
Friday morning, at 0:07 hours, something very significant happened: Adele released a song that wasn't about a break-up. Actually, it's the theme song to the new James Bond movie, "Skyfall." And it's really good. You can listen to it here.
One day, as I waited for the bus in my mom’s car, I tired of the CD in the drive. When my rummaging turned up no sufficient alternatives, I turned on the radio and cycled, thanks to a well toned habit, to Oldies 103.3. The first song I heard was “Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)” by The Temptations. Those few minutes were the closest I’ve ever gotten to having a Proustian moment.
Some months after the release of “The Joshua Tree” in 1987, U2 received a cassette from its label, Island Records. On it was a gospel recording made in a small brick church on West 124th Street in Harlem of “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” the second song off that album. When the band made its pilgrimage to America—captured on its 1988 album “Rattle and Hum,” along with its eponymous documentary—band members stopped by the church to play the song. And if U2’s gospel sound was first introduced in “Still Haven’t,” it ran so deep that the gospel choir didn’t need to do much searching to find religion in the song’s three chords.
In the kitchen, my family had a tall black structure with irregularly placed shelves, one of which held a combination cassette player, radio, and phonograph—sort of a dunce’s corner when it comes to current music technologies. When the weather warmed and school days became a thing of the past, I would become preoccupied with the making of mixtapes for drives to my grandfather’s house in Cape Cod.
The night I first understood “Astral Weeks,” I was cold in the dark back seat of my family’s car, looking out the fogged window as we became helplessly lost en route to a Christmas party. As the disc finished and looped back to the beginning, I began to find the music inexplicably appropriate to that moment. “If I ventured in the slipstream,” sings Morrison on the titular first track, “between the viaducts of your dream…could you find me…lay me down in silence easy to be born again?”
One muggy night in mid-July of that summer, I found a soft-focus, black-and-white video of “Racing in the Street” performed live in 1978. The song was, and remains, my favorite of Springsteen’s—the ballad of a man who struggles through life, hoping to find redemption in the late night street races he and his friend Sonny follow across the East Coast.
Despite an overly cautious approach, the album's best tracks are so stellar as to maintain what might seem an otherwise unjustified faith in the group that gave us some of the best music of the new millennium.
The new “Father, Son, Holy Ghost” is an absolute masterpiece rife with an unadulterated joy of music; each note on the record is played with a child’s exuberance at learning there is a world, and a whole, expressive language to which there is no limit.
I was in Cambridge, Mass., in the mouth of a large red slide when I first heard about the attacks, only what I heard was that World War III had begun, and that the war was why we were enjoying an early recess