Culture 26

MacArthur’s Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet green icing flowing down
Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don’t think that I can take it
‘Cause it took so long to bake it
And I’ll never have that recipe again
Oh, no!

— Richard Harris, “MacArthur Park” (1968)

Culture 25

“Volcano” by The Presidents of the United States of America (1996). I love the word play in this song. And in many other POTUSA songs as well. Almost always puts me in a good mood. Ironic, really, since the song is about hellish death. I mean, it’s not really about hellish death, but hellish death is definitely part of the subject matter.

Culture 24

“Mandolin Rain” by Bruce Hornsby and the Range. This is a sad song. It’s about lost love. There’s a line.

You don’t know what you’ve got
Till you lose it all again.

I defy this line. I know exactly what I’ve got right now, I understand in detail the blessings of my life. I make it a point to keep it somewhat in mind. I try to take nothing for granted.

Pretty song, though.

Culture 22

Dearly beloved
We are gathered here today To get through this thing called “life”
Electric word, life, It means forever and that’s a mighty long time
But I’m here to tell you
There’s something else
The Afterworld
A world of never-ending happiness
You can always see the sun, day or night
So when you call up that shrink in Beverly Hills
You know the one, Dr. Everything’ll-Be-Alright
Instead of asking him how much of your time is left
Ask him how much of your mind, babe
‘Cause in this life
Things are much harder than in the Afterworld
In this life
You’re on your own
And if the elevator tries to bring you down
Go crazy
Punch a higher floor!

— Prince and the Revolution, “Let’s Go Crazy” (1984). To my mind, 1984 is really the year the 1980s became the Eighties. There was movement in that direction from the start, of course, but 1984 is when it fully arrived. When it jelled, perhaps.

Culture 21

Martyrs don’t do much for me
Though I enjoy them vicariously
After you, no, after me
No, I insist, please, after me

— The Tragically Hip, “Twist My Arm” (1991)

Culture 18

“The Kraken” by Squirrel Nut Zippers. A musical interlude that takes you on an epic mystical journey to the land of dreams. You think I’m exaggerating? You would think that, wouldn’t you?

I had a geometry teacher who used to say that. You’d make some sort of logical blunder and answer wrongly, and he would raise his eyebrows a little bit and nod encouragingly, and say in his distinct nasal voice, “You would _think_ that, wouldn’t you?” He was a bit unsettlingly intense, but I always appreciated the sentiment. Basically he was saying, “Yes, I understand the mistake you made, and you are not stupid.” Still, I bet it was really off-putting to some people. Armenti was his name. He was quite the character. But I digress.

Culture 17

“Magic Box” by the Laurie Berkner Band. Laurie Berkner was doing her thing when my child was the right age. Steph actually took Marnie to a Laurie Berkner concert back in the day. At home, we had a Laurie Berkner DVD that saw a lot of play. Laurie Berkner is an amazing performer with incredible energy, and her music is rocky, delightfully kid-like, without being saccharine and without dumbing it down. At the center of everything, it’s a woman singing while accompanying herself on acoustic guitar. What’s not to like? I mean, Suzanne Vega, right? The Indigo Girls? C’mon. But this is for kids, and my child loved it dearly. I just showed them the video and they went on a big nostalgia trip, one that was welcome and pleasant. This is “Magic Box”, which is fairly indicative of Berkner’s work. I hope you listen and enjoy.