Pemby Fest Playlist

Music festival season is in full swing and luckily, out here on the West Coast the options continue to grow.  Within three months we have: Rock the Shores, Sasquatch, Rifflandia, Bumbershoot, Squamish and Pemberton, which for my money is the best one out there.

I, for one am not interested in seeing 90s bands headline summer festivals.  My poor teenage heart broken into a million pieces when I saw Hole at Rifflandia last year.  I’m not fussy about sound quality but even my 6-ciders buzz could not hide the fact that they sounded so bad. I couldn’t stop flinching and even began to wonder if they sounded that horrible at Lollapalooza 1995.  So seeing Our Lady Peace and Tom Cochrane at Rock the Shores was not really high on my priority list, no matter how hot Rain Maida is.  Sasquatch on the other hand has a pretty good line up.  But after Eminem’s SNL debacle, I’m not super interested in hearing him fake rap about all his regrets while I try to get my buzz on.  Arcade Fire is my favourite band.  I’ve send them live once during their Rebellion tour and I had a near -religious experience and cried at the concert.  So I’m not sure I feel like doing that again in the middle of a hot, sweaty crowd.  Sasquatch always has an interesting line up but it’s so early and way before I ever have time to start thinking about summer plans.  Bumbershoot is a bit more mainstream I think and is always around Labour Day so it’s too late for me.

Pemberton is perfect: smack-dab in the middle of the summer, with headliners like Outkast and Kendrick Lamar as well as some throwback artists like Soundgarden, the Violent Femmes and the Flaming Lips and some very cool new artists like Grimes, St. Vincent, Chance the Rapper and Girl Talk.   And for good measure they added the Canadian staples like Metric, the Stars and Matt Mays.  I can’t wait to get there!

Here’s a playlist I made to get hyped for the weekend. It includes Chance the Rapper, School Boy Q, Snoop Dog, Above & Beyond, Grimes, Metric, Hayden and the  Stars.

I can’t wait!

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You Can’t Hide From Us

I’m not sure if it’s cool to like Bryan Greenberg, but I do.  I’m pretty sure that’s it’s not cool that I learned about him from One Tree Hill but I did.  I know it’s not cool that I always imagine myself as the successful singer on the radio in the song, You Can Run, but sadly, it’s true.

You Can Run features the genius Kid Cudi and is from the 2011 CD, We Don’t Have Forever.  I really like Greenberg’s lyrics because they are very straightforward and rhythmic, kind of like hip hop lyrics.  His music is simple and beautiful – not crowded with extra cadences, overwrought metaphors or theatrics.  It’s bold and bare.

I’m not what anyone would call a direct person. I connect with music so strongly because it often helps me figure out my feelings.  And I love to sing.  About 90 per cent of the time, if someone is not talking to me or I’m not eating, I am singing  - either out loud or just in my head.  It’s either annoying or amusing.  If it’s the latter, we’re probably friends. If it’s the former we’re probably not friends, or you have a high threshold for annoyance or I’m scared of you.

It’s gotten to the point where my BF doesn’t listen to the radio anymore without me because so many songs remind him of my overly enthusiastic melodizing.  I love that.

You can run, you can run
But you can’t hide
From my love, you can run
You can run but you can’t hide

 He’s away from home a lot for work and that’s hard for the both of us.  But I take a tiny bit of sadistic comfort in knowing that even 1,500 km apart and in a different time zone, I’m around him.  If I think about it too much, I feel like that obsessed stalker from that old Police song, but it’s all really just a happy coincidence.  We happen to spend a lot of time listening to music and I happen to make him mix CDs with some of our favourite songs whenever he goes away on trips and I happen to sing along to almost every song ever written.

From my love, you hear me on the radio
Comin’ through so clear on the stereo
And you know there is nowhere to go
From my love, you try to forget about me
But I told you to never doubt me
How’s your life right now without me?

Obviously, I’m not some famous actor/singer who finally made it big.  I mean I don’t even have a job! And my BF is very supportive of my creative work and my volunteering and not settling for something just because I need a job; not some former flame who thought I would never make it and always be a waiter.  But of course, I love to dream.  I imagine what it would be like if he was away and he heard on the radio or the news that my book was published or on the NYT Best Sellers List or something. I imagine flying out to visit him and bringing a full entourage and an agenda full of red carpet appearances for us.

You see us on the TV screen
You scream, “Is this really happening?”
This is as real as all our dreams

So many people have that fantasy about making it big and proving former flames wrong. Not me.  Once you’re out of my life, no offence, but I think you should drop off the face of the Earth.  Out of sight, out of mind.   My mind is already so overly consumed with thoughts, questions, dreams and hopes for the people I see regularly that I don’t have the brain space to think about those that are no longer in my peripherary. Sometimes, something out of nowhere will strike me and remind me of XY or Z but for the most part, I try my best to give all my attention and care to relationships in the present tense.

Another reason why I really love “You Can Run;” is that relationship isn’t over although it seems like the couple broke up.  Although it was probably over for the girl a while ago, it wasn’t for the singer. Now he’s getting some success and the girl is taking notice again, but he’s not bitter. That relationship helped him achieve his goals.  You often get curious about what happened to XY or Z and it is so tempting to online stalk them and find out how fat, bald or successful he/she has gotten.  But I try my best not to succumb because the flip side is a vicious downward spiral. XY or Z looks better than you.  XY or Z is more successful than you.  Then comes the questioning.  Did XY or Z try to find you online?  What did XY or Z find?  What did XY or Z think?  I can’t even go there but I can’t hide either.

You see me in the paper
Thought I’d always be a waiter
Got heart for all the haters
Cause that’s my love, you can run
You can run but you can’t hide

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Oh Sadness, I’m Your Girl

I wasn’t a particularly sensitive child.  Whenever I was in trouble or something sad happened, I would zone out.  I would imagine I was in a play and nothing that was happening was real or that I was a spy and everything before me was an elaborate ruse.  It wasn’t until I moved in Grade 7, and I hit puberty and I discovered Nirvana that I really remember feeling things so deeply and getting overcome with empathy and sadness.

When I was about 13, we had an ant problem in our basement.  They crawled through the heater vents and from the windows and basically every corner of the room was their colony.  So my dad bought some ant poison, as you do in these situations.  However, this   particular poison caused the ants to loose control of their limbs and die very, very slowly.   I remember lying on the floor watching TV and seeing the ants staggering around me.  Usually they moved too fast for me to even notice them.  But this day, they were slow, haphazard and sporadic.  I forgot all about my show and gave the colony my full attention.  I wasn’t sure what was happening.  But I could sense panic in the movement of their tiny bodies.  Their little legs stopped moving one by one but ever resilient, the ants  continued on, dragging their dead legs behind them like fallen soldiers.  Even when all their legs gave out, they would still move a bit due to sheer fortitude.  There was probably about 20 ants on the carpet, but to me it seemed like a scene from the Battle of Somme or something.  I had been watching the scene for about 10 minutes when I noticed water canons began to drop adding another obstacle to the ants’  plight. It took me a minute to realize that the water canons were my own tears.  I saw my reflection in the TV set and could see tears flowing freely down my face.  I hated all creepy crawly things especially in my own house but I never expected them to die like this.

When my dad came home two hours later, I was still crying over the scene I saw.  I’m sure he thought I was crazy but to his credit he didn’t make fun of me.  He made me some french fries and got rid of the ant poison.  But I never forgot that scene and what it stirred inside of me: guilt for the ant poison; anguish for the pain of the ants; shame for watching them suffer and being able to do nothing; grief for the other ants left behind.  It’s all so OMG teenage melodrama looking back on it now; but even just remembering this incident from over 20 years ago, I can’t help but relive all those intense feelings all over again.

A lot of people think I like being sad.  That is not true.  I like feel alive (most of the time).  I like to connect with people I know and people I don’t know. Happiness is easy to fake.  A smile, a nod, a bit of idle chit chat and some forced laughter.  It’s not brain surgery.  We do it everyday.  But sadness is a bit harder to fake.  You feel it before you show it. Happiness forces you outward- embrace the sunshine; salute the day; count your blessings.  Sadness explores your insides – it lurks in your veins and seeps through your blood, following you like a shadow.  You can never predict when it will surface.

Sadness is a Blessing by Lykke Li, from the 2011 CD, “Wounded Rhymes” is a song that everyone I know says reminds them of me.  I get it.  I get sad easily. I cry often.   Some people see this as a curse, but to me it’s a blessing.

Sadness is a blessing
Sadness is a pearl
Sadness is my boyfriend
Oh, sadness I’m your girl

People often don’t take the time to connect with their emotions.  They want to get over it. They want to move on.  But just as much as you relish your happy moments you have to acknowledge your sad moments. It’s the ying and yang of life.  It’s why so many hilarious comedians also battle depression.  Highs have lows.  Peaks have valleys.

These scars of mine make wounded rhymes tonight
I dream of times when you were mine so I
Can keep it like a haunting
Heart beating close to mine

In the video for Sadness is a Blessing, which co-stars the cooler than cool Stellan Skarsgard, Lykke Li is face to face with sadness.  She antagonizes it.  She mocks it. She does everything she can to rebel against it.  But in the end she embraces it. It’s a deep, metaphor-rich video that still gives me chills every time I watch it.

I ranted, I pleaded, I beg him not to go
For sorrow, the only lover I’ve ever known
Every night I rant, I plead, I beg him not to go
Will sorrow be the only lover I can call my own?

That’s the darkness behind the shadow of sadness.  What if your sadness never fades?  Depression is a real, scary disease that affects millions of people in millions of different ways.  But I think sadness is something different.  It rises and sets like the sun.  Some days with sadness are longer than others.  Some days feel like weeks and some like fleeting memories.  But it’s always  with you, a constant companion, ready to help you navigate your world through connections and reactions and emotions.

Sadness is my boyfriend
Oh, sadness I’m your girl

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The Lloyd Dobler Anthem: I Wanna Be Yours by the Arctic Monkeys

As a daydreamer and over-thinker, it’s pretty easy for me to get obsessed.  If I’ve met you I’ve probably thought about you naked, choreographed an interpretive dance routine for you or imagined punching you or all of the above.   “I Wanna Be Yours” by the Arctic Monkeys is a lazy, dreamy love song for the stalker within all of us.

If you like your coffee hot
Let me be your coffee pot
You call the shots babe
I just wanna be yours

Alex Turner’s voice is so monotone and the beat is so staccato that the whole song plays like a trance-like mantra that a guy with a set of binoculars and a secret web-cam set up in your bathroom would say to you just before he blew your brains out.  I love it:)

This song is based on the 1982 poem, “I Wanna Be Yours” by John Cooper Clarke  which the Arctic Monkeys learned in school.

This song makes me think of Lloyd Dobler, probably the greatest boyfriend ever portrayed, in one of the best films of all-time, Say Anything.  It’s about the relationship between Lloyd Dobler, an average student, and Diane Court, the valedictorian, immediately after their graduation from high school. The movie is filled with a million great quotes but there’s one scene in particular where he meets Diane’s father and the father is grilling him about what he will be doing with his life and he says:

What I really want to do with my life -what I want to do for a living – is I want to be with your daughter. I’m good at it.

All Alex mentions are physical or popular, everyday objects that everyone uses.  He doesn’t have a real relationship with of the object of his affection yet, although his feelings are obviously already very deep.

Let me be the portable heater
That you’ll get cold without
I wanna be your setting lotion
Hold your hair in deep devotion
At least as deep as the Pacific Ocean

Lloyd is infatuated with Diane Court but doesn’t know much about her until they start dating. Maybe it’s his youthful exuberance or maybe it’s his personality but he knows that they could be great loves.

Maybe I just wanna be yours
I wanna be yours
I wanna be yours

What makes “I Wanna Be Yours” different is the song’s narrator is basically giving himself over to the object of his affection.

Secrets I have held in my heart
Are harder to hide than I thought
Maybe I just wanna be yours
I wanna be yours
I wanna be yours 
You call the shots babe
I just wanna be yours

It’s not exactly the sentiment that functioning real-world relationships are made of, but it sure is sweet.  In Say Anything, when Lloyd and Diane get back together at the end he says:

One question: are you here ’cause you need someone, or ’cause you need me?… Forget it, I don’t care.

What makes this song and Lloyd Dobler so sweet is that so many people feel this way, but hardly anyone has the bravery to say it forthright. That kind of brazen honesty is shocking and often can seem desperate or overbearing but in these cases it comes from a sweet place of refreshing candour and devotion.

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Time is Limited but Legacies Live Forever

Today is Tupac Shakur’s birthday.  He would have been 43 if he hadn’t died at 25 due to complications from gun shot injuries sustained during a drive by in Los Vegas.   Tupac is a study in contradictions.  He was an art school drop out, a voracious reader, an empathetic actor and as impassioned activist as well as a hot-tempered, former drug-dealer with a violent past he could never shake and an irrepressable knack for getting into shit.

I’m not the biggest Tupac fan but it’s impossible to deny his artistry, his legacy and his drive.  He died at 25 in 1996 and they are still releasing his original material 18 years later. Did he come out of the womb with a microphone or something?  Much like Notorious B.I.G., Tupac’s lyrics have a Nostradamus quality when reviewed in light of his early, tragic death.

I love the song “How Long Will They Mourn Me,” from the CD Thug Life Volume 1 released in 1994.  Rap is a lot about braggadocio and being clever, and I love that.  It’s funny and brave and strong.  But Tupac’s lyrics often came from a more honest place.  He rapped about his own regrets; his worries, his mistakes and his opinions.

They should’ve shot me when I was born
Now I’m trapped in the muthafuckin’ storm
How long will they mourn me ?

Tupac and his group Thug Life rap about how they are becoming numb to the constant deaths of their friends and ask God why they are alive to just do the same shit over and over again.

So confused not knowing which way to go
I’m goin crazy and runnin’ out of fuckin’ time
I can’t take it, I’m losin’ my fuckin’ mind
So day after day 
ride after ride 

How Long Will They Mourn Me is both a meditation on Tupac’s preoccupation with his death as well as a vignette showing how Tupac and his crew grieve for a lost brother when so many friends are dying so quickly one after another.

Do real niggas get to go to heaven ?
How long will they mourn me, bury me a muthafuckin ‘G’
Bitch don’t wanna die
then don’t fuck with me

Tupac often questioned whether he would go to heaven given the many terrible acts he has committed.  His actions were shaped by his environment and the justice sought through personal retaliation.   That’s one of the reasons Tupac is so fascinating.  He knew he was doing bad shit, but he was compelled to do it.

It’s kinda hard to be optimistic 
When your homies lying dead on the pavement twisted
Y’all don’t hear me doe, I’m trying hard to make amends
But I’m losing all my muthafuckin friends

17022009067146000123486Tupac knew who he was and who he would become better than anyone. He was a prophet to many, a mess of contradictions and a lyrical genius who worked harder than anyone in his short time on Earth. But even he could not have predicted that he would still be a best-selling artist almost 20 years after his death, whose lyrics are studied in universities around the world and whose art serves as a cultural cornerstone for a time of racial unrest; social upheaval and the crazy excess and gang culture of 90s rap music.



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Say What You Want and Then You Get it Maybe

I think Fuck and Run was the first time I ever heard I girl swear in a song.  I heard it on the University Radio station late at night so the song felt very special, like a forbidden secret that none of my friends knew about.  I had taped the song about eight times off the radio and listened to it very low in my bedroom mouthing the words, so no one could hear the lyrics.

I was enamoured with this song not because she said the F-word but because she was so blunt, unabashed, unapologetic about it all while maintaining her even, monotone demeanour.  Liz Phair  wasn’t an angry drug addict like Courtney Love, she wasn’t a depressed romantic like Sarah McLachlan.  She was a girl who made mistakes but had the balls to ask for what she wanted.  She didn’t turn inward when confronted with men that didn’t meet her expectations.  She wondered what was wrong with them not what was wrong with her.

And whatever happened to a boyfriend
The kind of guy who tries to win you over?
And whatever happened to a boyfriend
The kind of guy who makes love ’cause he’s in it?

I was 14 when I discovered this song.  I don’t think I had ever asked for what I wanted outside of asking for pizza for dinner or permission to go to the bathroom.  If my friends wanted to come over after school, I said yes.  If a teacher wanted me to volunteer for peer counselling, I said yes.  If a guy asked me out, I said yes.  I don’t think it even occurred to me to say no.   I had an irrational FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) before it became a celebrated hashtag.  I also suffered from an over-active obsession with making sure everyone liked me, even people I didn’t like.

It was around this time that I was discovering that you could express your opinions without saying anything through your fashion, your music, the way you carried yourself and the things you did.  This was an important step for someone like me at this time as I was still much too shy to come forward and speak my mind unprovoked.  But I dreamed of it.  I imagined telling my friends that I wanted to read about Wiccans and drip wax into my bellybutton instead of watching Ghostwriter  on PBS and eating wine candies.   I dreamed of telling my dad that I wanted to learn Broadway show tunes instead of watch wrestling. I dreamed gathering all the boys in my grade at an assembly and saying:

I want a boyfriend
I want all that stupid old shit
Like letters and sodas
Letters and sodas. 

Thank God I never followed through on those daydreams. Instead I developed an internal dialogue within myself.  I started thinking about what I wanted in ways I never did before. I started thinking about what I wanted to do; what I wanted out of relationships. I still didn’t ask for what I wanted out loud but at least I was asking myself.

You almost felt bad
You said that I should call you up
But I knew much better than that
And almost immediately I felt sorry
‘Cause I didn’t think this would happen again
No matter what I could do or say
Just that I didn’t think this would happen again
With or without my best intentions

Fuck and Run is from the CD Exile in Guyville and is one of the most underrated CDs of the 1990s.  If you don’t know it, I highly suggest you check it out.




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Best Beyonce Cover Ever

I was feeling kind of out of sorts this morning, so my BF sent me a link to my favourite Beyonce parody.  There are a lot of funny Drunk in Love parodies out there (SERFBOARD).  But this one is by far my favourite.  It’s funny as shit; the girl can really sing and I can totally relate! Get ready for the lols if you haven’t seen this yet.

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