Hall and Oates are Officially Cool Again, Says Me

They make my dreams come true.

Yesterday my wife and I were hanging out at our new favorite brunch spot in Nashville, The Perch.  As we were waiting on our crepes, we both had our laptops up and running (she was working on stuff for her Master’s program, and I was catching up on burning about a dozen CD’s that I’ve bought since last December).  An energetic couple sat down at the table across from us; as she walked past, the wife snuck a peak at the pile of CD’s I had laying on the table.

“Just checking out your musical style”, she said with a curious smile.

I lifted up Landon Pigg (a local Nashville artist recently featured on an ATT commercial) and Pete Yorn & Scarlett Johansson to give her a good idea of exactly was is music to me.  She approved.

But then, I pulled out the one she couldn’t see because it was currently being burned.  And that definitely got her attention as well as her husband’s: The Essential Hall and Oates.

She eagerly told me about Daryl Hall’s current website, in which he invites special guest musicians to play concerts in his house.  Within a minute, she had emailed me the link.  http://www.livefromdarylshouse.com/index.php?page=ep30

As if it wasn’t obvious, being that I’ve referenced Hall and Oates in the last couple things I’ve written, I’m a little bit obsessed with this feel-good duo.  Maybe it started when they performed on the recent American Idol finale and I realized they not only are still performing but also haven’t changed who they are one bit.  Because there was John Oates bouncing and bopping around on his electric guitar and Daryl Hall running the show in all confidence.

Some musical acts could have only been popular during the time they were popular.  Hall and Oates is the epitome of them.  The late 70’s and early 80’s were the only time that a male duo singing group looking the way they did and performing the way they did could not only get away with it, but have six Number Ones and have 34 singles to chart.

The duo of course is comprised of  Daryl Hall (of Scottish heritage) and John Oates (half Italian, a quarter Spanish, and a quarter British English).

Hall and Oates is also the kind of musical act that sings so many more songs than I ever realized.  I’d been hearing their songs all along, assuming it was a random one hit wonder.

If I was asked two weeks ago (before I bought their 3 disc greatest hits set) which songs Hall and Oates sang, I would say “You Make My Dreams”, “Maneater”, and “Out of Touch”.  Just the tip of the Oatesberg:

Here’s a brief looks at their credentials:  Their six Number Ones were “Rich Girl”, “Kiss on My List”, “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)”, “Maneater”, and “Out of Touch”.  A few of their 34 singles that charted include “You Make My Dreams”, “You’ve Lost That Loving Feelin’”, “One on One”, “Say It Isn’t So”, “Adult Education”, “Method of Modern Love”, and “Sara Smile”.

But after listening nonstop to the 40 plus songs on the 3 disc set I bought exactly a week ago, my favorite song of theirs, to my surprise, is not “You Make My Dreams” (which hilariously leads into the guitar solo with the lyrics “well listen to this”).  It’s instead one that I truly never heard prior to seven days ago.  A song that peaked at #6 in June of 1983.  The song is “Family Man”.

Complete with a grungy guitar riff reminiscent of Weezer’s 2001 hit “Hash Pipe”, perfect back-up vocal spurts, and the off-beat subject matter (for a pop song) of a faithful husband and father basically saying “skat!” to a temptress.  And best of all, it was a hit in 1983.

As I recently explained to a friend who was much less familiar with Hall and Oates as I made him listen to them in my car, “They’re the kind of music you should listen to if you’re considering suicide.  You’ll change your mind by the end of the first song.”

Now Simon and Garfunkel, well, that’s a different story.

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Rad Web Clips to Watch on a Lazy Saturday

In a world of so many weird and funny Internet clips begging for our attention on YouTube, one that started circulating in the fall of 2008 has officially become my all-time favorite.  I proclaim it my favorite “Clip of My Lifetime”.

I suspect that I’m not introducing this to anyone for the first time ever, but my intentions are to be a guide and companion as we try to squeeze this orange for all it’s worth. Please enjoy “Jesus is My Friend” by a rockin’ band called Sonseed:

Well first of all, it’s from 1983 so automatically how can it not be awesome? The lead singer, Sal (whose wife is the piano player), is quite a cartoon squirrel. His token head nod after every over-pronounced verse is so charming. And the pouty look on his face as he delivers each Vacation-Bible-School-line just warms my heart. It’s almost like watching a 4 year-old boy in the form of a 24 year-old Italian man. (Though he was actually 30 when this was filmed.)

I’ve seen cases of some of today’s popular actors either getting their start in Christian entertainment (or resorting to it once they realize their career is over). One theory is that Sonseed’s snazzy lead guitar player is the young Paul Giamatti. (In reality, the guitar player’s name is Frank Franco. That is stellar in itself.) And the drummer may very well be Will Ferrell’s first cousin. Hard to know for sure.

Depending on what day I’m asked, the back-up singers may be my favorite part of this short film. Having his next-door neighbors jump in at the last minute was a plan that came together after all. The first lady it shows is the answer to anyone who says “what’s the worst that could happen?” when being set on for a blind date. You just know things are bound to get awkward. I’m sure she’s got a heart of gold, but she really looks like she should be a SNL character. Did I see her as an extra on Napoleon Dynamite?

Next is perhaps her husband. I can see him being a youth minister on a weekend retreat in Kentucky.  I would definitely want to be in his raft on the white water rafting. Mainly just because a red plastic vest would befit him. Back home he probably had a Petra poster hanging up in his office so that the kids in his youth group could relate to him more.

Excuse me, John Schlitt, lead singer of Petra, but you're kinda standing on the state of New Hampshire... so if you don't mind...

Um, excuse me, John Schlitt, lead singer of Petra, but you're kinda standing on the state of New Hampshire... so if you don't mind...

All I’ve got to say about the next lady is that I’m proud of her for being able to drag her husband out of the house. It takes a positive spirit like hers when being the other half of someone who can’t even memorize one line, “Jesus is a friend of mine”- he’s looking down at the lyric sheet the only time it zooms in on his face.

And then there are the actual lyrics to the song. Universally, the favorite line tends to be “God is like a mounty; He always gets his man”. I’m still trying to figure out what exactly a mounty is and how to spell it. I think it’s a word for a Canadian policeman. But of course the cherry on top of this whole nostalgia-fest is “Zap!!!” That defines the whole video.

When I was first introduced to this video I just watched it repeatedly. The day after I saw it the first time, my wife came home to find me watching it in a trance. There’s just so much to take in. I found a website where I was able to download the whole album. I’ve got it on my iPod now but “Jesus Is My Friend” is the only song of its class, like “Hey There Delilah” on The Plain White T’s CD.

I can’t imagine any YouTube clip ever having more character than Sonseed’s. But I do also highly recommend “The Renewed Mind is the Key” which was recorded from some hokey adult-contemporary Christian musical in Branson, Missouri. That’s only if you want to see a long-haired white guy moonwalk across the stage, then put his hand over his mouth as if he just “passed gas” and is embarrassed by it, the way a 58 year-old woman from Georgia wearing a sundress and matching hat would do. He is accompanied by two women wearing Hillary Clinton pant-suits who have learned a sort of snap-dance from someone who got their degree in “Modern Dance” from a community college.

And here’s the whole song…

And finally, a must-see is the dog that was born without his front legs; yet his owner taught him to walk on his hind legs. If anything ever looked fake but is completely real, it’s Faith, the Hind-Leg Walking Dog.

The Euphoric Therapy of iTunes: Listening to Music is Like Traveling Back in Time

 

The only thing I really buy for myself that is not a basic need, is music.  My CD collection now contains well over 700 albums, not including the several hundreds of songs I’ve “traded” with friends via laptop swap or the “borrowing and burning” of each other’s CD collections.   The one material thing that I actually spend money on (though I often buy at a much discounted price at Unclaimed Baggage) is music.

My stereo speakers are never silent as long as I’m the only one in the car.  There are times when I actually get tired of my own massive music library, but even then, I turn the radio to a classic rock station (“I want to know what love is, I need you to show me…”) or an alternative station where I get introduced to current bands like The Avett Brothers (“In January, we’re getting married…”).

 

Music is therapy.  It’s invisible.  But music has a way of ministering to the soul and to the emotions.  It enhances the mood and the moment.  Music makes sad times sadder and good times greater.  And when I don’t know how I feel, I listen to the abstract vagueness of ‘90’s alternative bands like Stone Temple Pilots, Live, and Foo Fighters.

Music is euphoric. It’s not tangible.  But music has a way of lifting a person’s spirits or helping them to connect and relate to the pain they are feeling at the moment.

Music is a drug. Teenagers use it to “express themselves” (or the idea of who they think they want to be) and to get in touch with their out of control emotions.  Adults use it to relax, to escape, to take a trip to an easier time in their lives.  And yes, music is an addictive drug.

I can not hear Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” and not be affected.  Or Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight”.  Or my newest obsession, the Scottish one-hit wonder from 1983, “In a Big Country” by Big Country, with its piercing lead guitar riffs reminiscent of a bagpipe:  “In a big country dreams stay with you like a lover’s voice…”

Music is engrained into our pop culture.  It freezes a year, a moment, a memory forever.  Listening to a song can be like time travel.  It stays with us.

And it’s amazing to me how music can make nonsense words and phrases acceptable by the mainstream.  Because seriously, everybody should wang chang tonight.

I can’t imagine a world where the words “I wish I was a little bit taller, I wish I was a baller” meant nothing to me.