Perhaps 30 Songs for November was a little ambitious. When I started the month, I had no anticipation of the numerous events that would occur that brought me to today. It was a transformative month and a welcome one at that. Perhaps the most important event of the moment is the return of my old day job, which kicks off later today.
So today’s song, another all-time favorite of mine, is the appropriately titled “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen. You have no doubt heard some version of this song since it reached mainstream popularity in the motion picture Shrek, and it has been covered by numerous artists over the years. Cohen wrote “Hallelujah” and recorded it in 1984. Cohen wrote as many as 80 verses that have been swapped in and out of the different versions over the years.
The video below is from a live performance in 2008 at the Montreal Jazz Festival at which Cohen and his band performed an extended version of the song.
Another one from the Dropkick Murphys. “The Season’s Upon Us” is their take on a Christmas song about a dysfunctional family holiday gathering I bet most of all of us can identify with. All in good fun, of course. Let the holiday season commence!
Going back to my year of birth again with “Search and Destroy” from Iggy and the Stooges. I love this song. I love the raw garage rock sound of the guitars, totally my personal of playing when I used to play in bands.
I saw Iggy Pop perform at The Globe Theater in Norwalk, CT, my hometown, in 1995. Incredible show! Most every person I knew from around town was there, including some good friends and my wife Victoria, we were engaged then. The whole group of us stood up front for the whole show.
Iggy jumped off stage to perform on the floor in the audience and he came right up to my friend Jason Mones and I for about two minutes. I towered over the guy as he hunched his shoulders and hung his head over the mic held in both hands, singing and moving rhythmically with the music barely a foot from me. I wish I could remember which song it was.
Outside the theater the first thing Jason said to me was, “we danced with Iggy Pop!” It was a great night.
Today is about renewing strength and energy. About standing up in the face of adversity, oppression, and fear. It’s a personal need to stand up and charge forward for the sake of health and family. It’s a societal need to rise against terror.
“Stand Up” by the Street Dogs conveys such a message on a few levels. The back story to the three vocalists you hear in the song represents, on a small-scale, the ability to overcome differences and coming together.
Mike McColgan, the lead singer of the Street Dogs, was the lead singer for and a founding member of the Dropkick Murphys along with Ken Casey. McColgan’s left the band in 1998 to join the Boston Fire Department, though he started forming the Street Dogs in 2002. The next year they recorded their first album, Savin Hill, which includes “Stand Up” with vocals by Dropkick Murphys vocalists Ken Casey and McColgan’s replacement Al Barr.
I use music as an escape from most things. Writing fiction gives me an escape from everything. Tonight, neither is working for me. Sometimes, it’s just the mood of a song that works, the transcendent calming ability it has over my frayed nerves. “Under the Milky Way” by The Church seems to do that for me. Not quite an escape, but an altered mood. Better than Xanax.