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November 17th, 2003


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10:02 pm - Happy and sad
Happy: The most frequent user of mrstrellis points to Mad Music, a repository of what might largely be termed novelty songs. On the downside, they tend to be 90-second clips in particularly dodgy mono format, presumably to make them a less attractive target for the copyright lawyers; on the upside, there are some wonderful tunes in there. I don't expect you to appreciate John Kettley Is A Weatherman unless you know the '80s British minor celebrities mentioned, but it's a song with many happy memories for me. The selection and categorisation of songs is a highly personal choice; I would argue that Mercury/Caballe's Barcelona and Nena's 99 Red Balloons are both credible and beautiful songs. Sure, those are two from 200, but there might be other songs you really like in there, especially if you, like me, like that sort of thing.

Sad: Accordingly, I'm on a "99 Red Balloons" kick at the moment, a mere 19 years or so too late. It's a beautiful song, though ever so sad. You can get a better, full .mp3 near the bottom of here, modulo linkrot. I want to know why it's quite such a sad song, other than the obvious ("it's about nuclear war") - or, generalising, why some songs can be so sad and yet so effective. Here's what I've got so far.
  • The internal rhyme structure, possibly benefitting from translation, is deliberately childish and similar to a nursery rhyme with the occasional made-up word - the best example being "To worry, worry, super-scurry / Call the troops out in a hurry".
  • The deliberate contrast of the childish, fun nature of the image of a red balloon with the war and its aftermath.
  • The first couplet emphasises the minor nature of the initial incident; "You and I in a little toy shop / Buy a bag of balloons with the money we've got." - emphasis on the small size of the toy shop, (by implication) how inexpensive the balloons were and how generally weak a purchase "a bag of balloons" is from all the purchases that could be made in a toyshop.
  • </li>
  • The contrast between the happy, upbeat tune in a major key and the sad lyrics.
  • The holding-back cadence used for the tune of the last line of the first three verses - compare with the more natural cadence used with the different pitch for "red" in the last line of the fourth verse, which is then repeated for emphasis.
  • The ethereal, faint, wispy accompaniment to the first and fifth verses.
Of those, I think the fifth is the most effective and deliberate technique, but I could be making this up. I'd be interested to hear the thoughts of those with more experience or formal training in such matters.

I want to throw in another poll at this point. Apologies for its assumption that relationships must be between exactly two people - more power to those of you who can make larger relationships work. I think the options are close to mutually exclusive but not actually completely so, thus: tickyboxes!
Poll #206310 Is music an essential nutritional component of the food of love?

How important is it that you and a relationship partner have similar tastes in music?

Essential - I couldn't imagine sharing my life with someone with whom I couldn't share my passion for music.
1(1.9%)
Strongly desirable - one of my major recreations is music; accordingly, I'd like to relax enjoying both my favourite music and my partner's company at once.
2(3.8%)
Weakly desirable - not a major factor, but I wouldn't want to be in a relationship with someone whose musical taste I hated or someone who hated mine.
15(28.3%)
Unimportant - if I care for a person then I'll care for them whatever their musical taste is; perhaps I might grow to love their musical taste given time.
7(13.2%)
In addition to the above, music is more fundamental to my well-being - even to my spiritual existence - than merely being a source of recreation.
0(0.0%)
I couldn't be in a relationship with someone who didn't like gratuitous meaningless tickyboxes.
1(1.9%)

Happy: Giving good gifts makes me happy, though I only feel I can manage it one or twice a year compared to several more workmanlike presents. Now please do argue with me on this one - convince me I'm off-base if you think I am - but there is a time and a place to give heartfelt presents and another time-place combination to give token gifts. Heartfelt gifts: whenever the opportunity and inspiration present themselves, without occasion or excuse being required. Token gifts: birthdays, Christmas. Mentioning no names at all and emphasising just how common this is: when people in a relationship have problems buying gifts for each other, that's a problem. Being able to surprise your partner (or even your friend!) with a perfect gift is wonderful, but people cannot surprise on demand and it's unrealistic and unhelpful to expect friends or partners to do so. Communicate about gifts! Enjoy the discussion!

There's a simple way around it: wishlists, wishlists, wishlists. Sometimes I see wishlists as a bit cheeky, a bit presumptuous that anyone might ever want to buy you a gift, but on balance I think they're a public service. Now I bet most people, on thinking wishlists, think Amazon - and some people, on thinking Amazon, think "one-click patent boycott" and think noamazon.com (which seems to be down). With respect to at least the one nice person I know who works at Amazon, I'm going to plug two meta-wishlist services which don't tie you down to a particular retailer: TheThingsIWant.com and WishFish. Other, more generic, non-automatic wish lists are also good solutions.

Sad: I definitely don't speak to my parents as much as I used to (in the long term) and I think I've identified the reason why. Nobody likes discussion where there's an undercurrent of "well, it's very nice that you're taking an interest, but due to the different experiences we've had, you just don't get it". Unfortunately, this seems to be creeping into my LJ experience more and more. I don't have anyone specific in mind; one of the nice things about LJ is that people are generally happy and prepared to evangelise and explain about their passions. Looking at this the other way, I know I often talk about things so obscure that people feel they can't really talk about them because they know they just don't get it in the same way. I can't really think of a way around this, except everyone's LiveJournal being read by ten times as many people, and I don't think anyone's actively doing anything wrong here - certainly not deliberately so. However, that doesn't stop it being perceptible and sad, though.

Happy... and Sad: Given that I've started a new poll, time to wrap up the old one - the "happiest LiveJournal" poll. The result: a seventeen-way tie for first place with one vote. Your winners are, in alphabetical order: anthologie, aome, bisonbaby, vardebedian, calliaume, cmshaw, heart_of_wine, foxmagic, gnimmel, lambertman, jaq, lisekit, mooders, solcita, venta, zonefox and zorac.

I think these are interesting results. 17 votes over a weekend is slightly down on what previous polls had received, but it certainly was a very tricky question when taken seriously. (Anonymous as promised, except that I didn't vote, and the people who I was thinking of voting for weren't nominated.) Many thanks to those who answered. A couple of people whose LJs I don't follow but who I recognise as tending to seem happy in their comments, a few people who I recognised as being certainly pretty content with their lot in life but who I hadn't thought of as being proactively happy and several other LJs which summon up no immediate images in my mind. I wonder how any of the nominated people feel about being nominated as happy, that their current state of happiness may be as happy as it gets - or, at least, as happy as it gets on someone else's Friends list?

On the other hand, I have a suspicion that the existence of this poll may not have been entirely happy for everyone. As wonderful as it is to celebrate those who are particularly happy in their lives, and as likely as I am to add some of the nominations to bring some extra happiness into my LJ life, I have a suspicion that the contrapositive of this poll is that there is a sense in which it could be said to deprecate or invalidate those who are not so happy, either in their life or in their LJ. Sometimes I find it difficult to think about the concept of not being happy and whose who are not happy. Drawing a slight veil, certainly I don't like the conclusions that I tend to draw when I think about these issues and try to take them to their logical conclusions. It wasn't my intention to rub it in to those who are unhappy.

Finishing on a Happy note, reasons to be cheerful:
  • Paid users now get 20 syndication points rather than 10. Hurrah, especially as I peaked at using 10.2 of my permitted 10. I remember when the limit used to be 5...
  • Kasparov played textbook anti-computer chess (or, perhaps, specifically anti-Fritz chess) to level the match at 1½-1½ and set up an exciting conclusion. Action starts at 1pm EST tomorrow on ESPN 2 or online.
  • How's thee father? All right!

Current Mood: two guesses!
Current Music: "99 Red Balloons" - Nena

(45 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


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[User Picture]
From:bopeepsheep
Date:November 17th, 2003 02:21 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I have John Kettley on vinyl, and can probably still remember all the words without looking them up. How scary is that? But I don't care. :-)
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 17th, 2003 03:55 pm (UTC)

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*doffs cap*

I must have sung it twenty times over the past eight years, at a RMS volume of 85 dB, and can never remember which verse is which without looking at the lyrics sheet. Give me the first line of a verse and I can work out the rest from the rhymes, but which order they come in is much harder...

*tempted by the thought of a John Kettley icon*
[User Picture]
From:applez
Date:November 17th, 2003 02:40 pm (UTC)

Your 99 Balloons link

(Link)
Download those Cowboy Bebop songs now! They are fantastic!
[User Picture]
From:applez
Date:November 17th, 2003 02:42 pm (UTC)

Moreover...

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For that 99 Balloons song...the German lyrics just sound better, I dunno.
[User Picture]
From:ringbark
Date:November 18th, 2003 12:38 am (UTC)

Re: Moreover...

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Yes, you are absolutely right. I was going to post the same thought. The German version, AFAIK, doesn't specify that the balloons are red. Just 99 Luftballons.
[User Picture]
From:malachan
Date:November 17th, 2003 02:51 pm (UTC)
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Re: happy LJ. The LJ I voted for isn't on your list; did LJ mess up or is it a typo?

Re: music. muffinbutt and I have totally different tastes in music, and I'm OK with that. However, tranquillo and I had similar musical tastes.

In the first instance, there's scope for interesting discussion in which we learn about each other's music, in the latter there's the opportunity for really in-depth discussion of our shared musical tastes. Either way, it's good!
[User Picture]
From:malachan
Date:November 17th, 2003 02:55 pm (UTC)
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Have filled in poll again! :)
[User Picture]
From:strangefrontier
Date:November 17th, 2003 02:52 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I love 99 Red Balloons - it's been making major appearances recently in my winamp playlist. Also, Barcelona, fab song.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 17th, 2003 04:02 pm (UTC)

(Link)
Hooray for the Owen Wilson icon!

There's no accounting for taste, but sometimes I suspect people deliberately insert bona fide good records among collections of purportedly bad ones just to make sure people are listening.

Maybe.
[User Picture]
From:addedentry
Date:November 17th, 2003 03:05 pm (UTC)
(Link)
You want bitchy about Amazon wishlists? This is bitchy about Amazon wishlists (and entirely contrary to my feelings).

Happy!
[User Picture]
From:applez
Date:November 17th, 2003 03:12 pm (UTC)

99 Lyrics link for ya'll

(Link)
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 17th, 2003 03:53 pm (UTC)

Re: 99 Lyrics link for ya'll

(Link)
I rather like this side-by-side comparison of a literal translation of the original German lyrics with the English ones. Quite different; I'm not sure whether the German original would somehow trigger sadness within me so effectively or not. There's only one way to find out, if someone would care to supply a .mp3. A, and indeed, hem.

I am giving the Cowboy Bebop songs you mention a try at this very moment. Not a clue what to expect, but I like John Kettley is a Weatherman, so it can't possibly be too geeky/sad for the room.
[User Picture]
From:imc
Date:November 17th, 2003 03:16 pm (UTC)
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Well, if you hadn't been so insistent about only typing one name into the box then it wouldn't have been a 17-way tie. . .
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 17th, 2003 04:07 pm (UTC)

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I'm actually rather pleased with the big tie. Having a single winner might have been slightly embarrassing, as it implies the concept of the Designated Happy LiveJournal, which is a mantle that might not be borne willingly. Better to have many Happy But Not Obviously Overwhelmingly So LiveJournals instead, in my twisted vision of things, at least.
[User Picture]
From:black_dog
Date:November 17th, 2003 03:33 pm (UTC)
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Interesting about 99 Red Balloons -- I love that song too, though I haven't heard it in a while.

I think pop songs are notorious for resisting analysis because people simply don't "read" or hear them all that carefully. People (meaning "me" and hopefully a few other people so I don't feel ridiculous here) sieze on snatches of lyrics (often grotesquely misheard -- see this site) or something in the emotional tone of the music, and as often as not their reaction is permeated with their own "real world" emotional state at the time the song was big (music seems to have a preferential bond with emotional memories, don't you think?).

Just to take an example: as fond as I am of 99 Red Balloons, I couldn't have told you before I read your post that it was a song about nuclear war. The references to "Captain Kirk," and "this is it boys, this is war . . . " seemed more like a sort of free-floating fantasy, and if I thought the song had any meaning, it was about the emotional state of letting go, of taking the plunge into, er, . . . something. Maybe, to put it pretentiously, I just don't take popular songs seriously as texts, much as I love the random sensations I may get from listening to them. I think a "sad" song works for me as sad if the music sounds sad, and if I can snatch a couple of melancholy, end-of-the-worldish phrases out of the ether when I hear it on the radio.

My .02 anyway.

BTW -- completely random -- it occurs to me that I haven't commented in your journal in a long time. I don't know why that should be. (Maybe the completeness and contained-ness of the thoughts you express and the stories you tell? Sometimes I like to do drive-by strokes in people's journals even if I haven't had a chance to have a proper conversation in a while, but that's harder to do for thoughtful posts!) Anyway I feel like an egregious free-rider because your journal is consistently a blast to read. Hope to catch you here and there, more often.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 17th, 2003 04:26 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I think pop songs are notorious for resisting analysis because people simply don't "read" or hear them all that carefully.

I have to say that I tend to cheat and look at online lyric sites for a very considerable proportion of pop songs. :-) In fact, I may look at more sets of lyrics than I listen to songs. Not being a music-sharer, for no particularly good reason, I tend to look intriguing-seeming songs up on the Internet when other people mention them and try to get an impression that way. Possibly less helpful than doing nothing at all, all things considered, with the risk of creating false or unintended impressions.

I'm definitely prepared to believe that sadness is in the ear, and mood, of the beholder. ericklendl and I had a considerable debate about the sadness or otherwise of The Land of Make Believe by Bucks Fizz, an early-'80s flavour-of-the-month British band who people compare to ABBA for weak reasons of band formula rather than anything else. I thought it was a rather downbeat piece about the transience of fairy tale and fictional superheroes, whereas Mr. Lendl put up a well-argued thesis to the alternative.

Last para: thank you; how kind of you to mention it! Very much appreciated indeed, and it's a particularly meaningful compliment coming from you.

This topic has generated a lot of response very quickly. I guess it's just the case that more people enjoy discussing music in general than they do the intricacies of ranking system formulation and implementation. (The data on this seems to be down and presumably will be down until the same time the "most similar interests" comparer returns; possibly this might be as "simple" as rewriting the code to use memcached, possibly some other scale-related reconstitution might be required.) From memory, "music" was always by far the most frequently-listed interest, anyhow.
[User Picture]
From:praetorianguard
Date:November 17th, 2003 03:48 pm (UTC)
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I'm not voting, since my answer isn't up there!

I couldn't have a relationship with someone who didn't respect my taste in music, and try to like it upon occasion. I'm not sure I could have a relationship with someone that I couldn't discuss music with, intellectually. I can, and have had, very good relationships with people whose taste hardly agrees with mine.

And, alas, I was not a pinball wizard. But my father played that song -- and only that song -- constantly. It was weird.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 17th, 2003 04:51 pm (UTC)
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Very interesting distinction. Would it be over-simplifying matters to say that a considerable part of your passion for music manifests itself in terms of musical discussion rather than musical consumption? I'm also wondering to what extent that is actually the general case, which I may have not taken into account, and to what extent your appreciation differs from frequent practice.

Now I'm wondering if your father previously played a mean pinball!
From:songmonk
Date:November 17th, 2003 04:41 pm (UTC)
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I've never seen modulo used in that context until the last 24 hours, and then twice by two different people!
From:songmonk
Date:November 17th, 2003 05:09 pm (UTC)
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Can you give me a link to where I can read about game 3 and what "anti-fritz" techniques that Kasparov used? The last thing I had heard was that Kasparov blundered in game 2 and was thoroughly punished for it.

Thanks!
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 17th, 2003 05:16 pm (UTC)
(Link)
http://www.chessbase.com/games/2003/kasparovx3dfritzgame3.htm

I particularly enjoy the annotation on this one. I've played remarkably little chess, but this clearly conveys the style of the demolition.

Wonder which Kasparov is going to turn up for game four - the motivated, planned one from game three or the psyched-out one from game two? Perhaps he's just taken longer to get used to the glasses and the interface than we had all anticipated.
[User Picture]
From:ringbark
Date:November 18th, 2003 12:43 am (UTC)

Reasons to be cheerful, part 3

(Link)
Scary coincidence of the day:
Just this morning, this line from "Ain't half been some clever bastards" jumped to mind "Van Gogh did some eyeball pleasers", so I Googled(TM) it, but I was distracted by the song that appears at the top of the first result.
See http://www.iota.com.au/viewmsg.asp?pid=980 for details.
Then I come home and Chris has posted this.
[User Picture]
From:bateleur
Date:November 18th, 2003 02:49 am (UTC)

Obscure Things in LJs

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I have to say that one of the things that makes your LJ truly great is that you write about the things which interest you however obscure they are.

This has often resulted in my finding out little interesting bits about topics I previously knew nothing of. Makes good entertainment IMO.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:November 22nd, 2003 08:14 pm (UTC)

Re: Obscure Things in LJs

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Thanks, it's very kind of you to say that. :-)
[User Picture]
From:imc
Date:November 18th, 2003 03:31 am (UTC)
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By the way, I don't credit `Barcelona' with being a beautiful song - partly because of its vast overuse during the Olympics in that city, and partly because Montserrat Caballe falls into that category of warbling operatic sopranos that I can't stand to listen to for more than a brief instant.

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