Continuing a good thing (or at least, a moderately enjoyable thing), this is my monthly series called “Five on Shuffle” where I attempt to reconnect with my iPod by using it regularly throughout the year and using it only and continuously on “shuffle.” Once a month I’m going to stop at a completely random interval, snap photos of five songs in a row, and then post and write about them here. The writing may be heavy or light, depending on whether or not I’ve anything remotely clever to say about any given song.
1. Doctor Wu – Steely Dan
Aw, man. RIP Walter Becker. I’m pretty sure that Steely Dan’s got the lock on making drug addiction sound romantic. Romantically heartbreaking, at least. Like any song about struggles, there’s a sadness underneath “Doctor Wu;” it’s a timeless feeling. One that glints and glimmers in a way that only Donald Fagan can vocalize so beautifully.
2. Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 26: Adagio – Max Bruch
Like so many classical pieces, they ring in the back of my mind in a way that makes me think I know them well, and yet have never heard them at all. I’m sure that I’ve heard excerpts of Bruch’s (19th c. German composer) “Violin Concerto No. 1,” but do I know this specific bit? In it I hear a number of other violin works that I know much better. But it sure is pretty all on its own.
3. Black Sabbath – Type O Negative
I’ve not really touched on this before in this series, but I have experienced some really jarring moments during this run of have my iPod only on shuffle. This was one of them – going from Max Bruch to Type O Negative’s cover of “Black Sabbath” almost made my brain cells seize. Nothing against Type O Negative or gothic metal, mind you. But their deep, dripping, lung-squeezing, version of “Black Sabbath” (with the original, for reference) is–shall we say–an acquired taste.
4. Frosty the Snowman – Nat King Cole
And there we go more with the jarring. iPod, really, what the hell are you thinking? Ah well, perhaps the aural schizophrenia is doing something good for my brain, eh?
You know him, you love him. Just admit it. Nat King Cole and good ol’ Frosty make for an enjoyable combo, even in the midst of summer.
5. The Trumpet Shall Sound (from Messiah) – George Frederic Handel
Okay, sure. No sense in getting back on the rails now.
Did I ever mention that I sang one of the pieces from Messiah way back in college? Not by myself (ha!), but when I was in choir. It was “For Unto Us a Child is Born.” Because of it, I made myself listen to the whole work (for the first time ever, at that point). And one of the things that’s really amazing about it is that despite how many individual songs it contains, it’s a very uniform piece. Like, each of the songs has very similar elements, like the long runs of notes and repetition of verses. Even its most famous Hallelujah chorus has the exact same elements. It’s quite a brilliant hallmark of exquisite composition.