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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Pink Floyd - "Meddle" (Harvest, 1971) [key tracks: Fearless, Echoes]
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"You say the hill's too steep to climb, you say you'd like to see me try. You pick the place and I'll choose the time, and I'll climb that hill in my own way. Just wait a while for the right day. And as I rise above the tree lines and the clouds, I look down, hearing the sound of the things you've said today. "
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I am not gay. And I am not weird. Not that gay is weird, I am just saying. But I like scarves. Scarves and teapots. Oh, and the sound of xylophones. Scarves, teapots, xylophones, and little figurines of cute bunnies. Oh man, I need a drink...
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Carl's Favorite Songs - #40 - Runnin' With the Devil by Van Halen
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"Meddle" is hands down my favorite Pink Floyd album. I know, I know, it should be "Dark Side of the Moon," or at least "The Wall." Truth is, I don't have DSOTM on vinyl, and frankly, as good as "The Wall" is, I feel that "Meddle" is more original and interesting. The odd, minimalist art that adorns the cover sort of sets the mood for the LP, which is a jumble of tunes from a band starting to hit their stride. Floyd was finally shedding their psychedelic, art-folk-pop roots and stepping into the realm of pre-stoner, anti-prog-hard-prog-rock (get all that?). The LP opens with "One of These Days," a song that outright rocks in a vein similar to late 80's Queensryche, and has only one line of vocals... spoken through a demonic distortion "One of these days I am going to cut you into little pieces." A hard right turn is taken, and Floyd unleashes a wistful, mature acoustic peace called "A Pillow of Winds." It is the third track where they dig their hooks in, which is also where I find great inspiration. The song is "Fearless," talking about someone who is seen as society's fool, yet still strives to rise above their station. Pretty powerful stuff. Plus, the haunting echoes of "You'll Never Walk Alone" (crowd fight song of FC Liverpool) are chilling. The last 2 tracks of side one are throw aways in my humble opinion, one being a sappy love song and the other a tongue-in-cheek blues song featuring a dog on vocals. The second side is entirely populated by the trippy "Echoes," probably the first great Pink Floyd song (again, in my humble opinion). It is a 20 minute+ epic that explores the themes of sailing, whales, space, and God. Pretty hair raising stuff. It alternates between new-age-esque swelling and soaring, only to then surge into a full-on operatic rock and roll jam. A must hear. "Meddle" may not be the best jump-in spot for new Floyd fans, but I think it is a nice reward for exploring beyond DSOTM.
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Two odd side notes about this LP. One, Andrew Lloyd Weber is accused of ripping off some of the music from "Echoes" for "Phantom of the Opera." Roger Waters never took him to court, but let's just say Weber never got a Christmas card from Pink Floyd. Secondly, I just recently read on Wikipedia that "Echoes" allegedly synchronizes perfectly with the star-gate sequence of 2001:A Space Odyssey (my favorite movie of all-time, hands down). This is another coincidence I am sure, much as the DSOTM/Wizard of Oz synchronization is, but there are some tantalizing facts that make the story more appealing. Kubrick wanted Floyd to score 2001, but it never came together. Actually, Floyd didn't see the need to be involved with scoring a film and passed. Which is weird because they did "More," but that is another story. Kubrick, a fan of Floyd, even has one of their albums up-front and center in the infamous record store scene in A Clockwork Orange. So was this a conscientious synchronization (laughable, considering the somewhat Herculean task it would have been back in those days, before home video and such), or just another statistical anomaly? Three, "Echoes" was once referred to alternately as "Son of Nothing" and "Return of the Son of Nothing," which bring to mind a pair of soul-crushing songs by Electric Wizard (zealots of Floyd-infused stoom) named "Son of Nothing" and "Return to the Son of Nothing." Coincidence? Homage? Rippage?
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What effect can music have on a person? Well, pre-9-11 Republicans were convinced that music motivated every level of sinful action, including the cause of mass murder. The truth is that music is an amplifier of emotions already dormant in you. If you are a hateful person, music emboldens that hate. And if you are perpetually in love, as some of us are, it "enbiggens" (thanks Springfield) that emotion. For me, "Meddle" is catharsis. Both "Fearless" and "Echoes" speak to me, and there was a 3 week period recently that all I listened to was "Meddle." Literally. I must have listened to the album 30 times. There is a line that sort of speaks where my soul is stoically mute, and I will share it then sign off. If you get it, you get me.
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"Cloudless, everyday you fall upon my waking eyes... Inviting and inciting me to rise. And through the window in the wall come streaming in, on sunlight wings. A million bright ambassadors of morning; and no one sings me lullabies, and no one makes me close my eyes, so I throw the windows wide and call to you across the sky..."
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Horns up!

3 comments:

On with the blather said...

Meddle is probably my favorite Pink Floyd album. That or Obscured by Clouds. On Meddle they explore several musical styles that flow seamlessly into each other. One minuet it's a slow soft ballad and the next it's a rocking r&b. Gotta love it.

stephen said...

Go you. The Wall is lame, lame, lame (IMHO).

Anonymous said...

Echoes is great, but WYWH ant DSOTM are the best Floyd albums as a whole. Just about the whole first side of Meddle could be thrown away.