Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

I’m not supposed to care …

January 20, 2021

So as I mentioned quite a while ago, I really like the Gordon Lightfoot song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”, from way back when if I recall correctly we studied it in school as an example of a ballad in English class (I think it was later, but that in a different English class — at university this time — was what got me interested in “The Lady of Shalott” and Loreena McKennitt).  At one point I came across a collection of Gordon Lightfoot songs on CD, bought it, listened to it … and decided that the only song on it that I liked was “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”, and didn’t listen to the CD anymore.  I copied the song off onto cassette to listen to with a bunch of other of my favourite songs — including a version of the Imperial March — and put the CD aside.

And then my CD player gave up the ghost.

I had a very, very difficult time finding a replacement for my 5 CD stereo, and so eventually just gave up on that.  I bought a radio that could run on batteries in case I lost power — and, soon after, actually did lose power for several days where listening to the news let me know what the heck was going on — and then decided to convert some CDs to MP4s and supplement that with some game soundtracks for music that I could listen to at work and at home in my multiple MP4 players (a Blu-ray player and multiple PCs/laptops).  And then not this past Christmas break but the one before that I decided to actually go through all of my CDs and burn them all to USB drives to listen to, and managed to make use of them for about the month before the lockdown happened and TV became more useful (and, also, I had left them at work).  In the summer, I got them back and the TV was becoming less interesting, and so I started listening to them more.

Now, a bit before that I had bought and assembled a TV stand thing to put on the wall in my living room where nothing else was, and then mostly for decoration I picked up one of those replica Victrola radio/CD player/record player (yes, record player)/cassette things.  And when I tested out the radio it was set to a radio station that played a good mix of songs and a lot of the songs that I remembered from my childhood.  And since while I was off in December listening to songs on my computers was less convenient than listening to the radio, I listened to the radio a lot, and indeed tend to keep listening to the radio when I’m working on things like the blog in my room because it’s a good mix of music and isn’t filling the room, and isn’t taking up computer cycles.

And that rekindled my interest in Gordon Lightfoot.

I think they were playing other songs of his as well, but one that I heard the most was “Sundown”, which I remembered from my childhood again, and remembered that I had liked it.  And so I decided to give the CD another try in the slack time between the end of my current disk of “Doctor Who” and the time “Super Password” comes on and/or I quit for the day to go do “Ring Fit Adventure” and my afternoon/evening stuff.  But I wasn’t sure if I would be able to take it, so I mixed it in with some Enya (which I either was or thought I had been introduced to by a suite mate in university residence my second year) and since I always put Windows Media Player on shuffle I figured I’d get a good mix (this will be important for later).  The set always starts with “Orinoco Flow”, and Windows Media Player is being balky and so hasn’t downloaded the information to tell me what each song is.  This will, again, be important later.  Also, I don’t remember that song from university, but instead from a TV commercial for a local mall that happened to align pretty well with the “sail away!’ part of the lyrics.

Anyway … I like more Gordon Lightfoot songs now, and don’t think that CD only has one good song on it.  The one I actually remember is the one that provided the title for this post.  But while I’m not going to claim that I like all of the songs, I don’t really remember one that I absolutely hate, which is thus a far cry from the impression I had of it when I first listened to it.  Has my musical taste matured over the years?  Unlikely, since the song that spawned my recent interest in Gordon Lightfoot was one that I was interested in because I liked it as a kid.  Could it be just that the CD was front loaded with songs that I didn’t like, and by the time I was past them I had given up on the CD?  Possibly, especially in light of the thing that all of those previous notes were hinting at:

I have no idea if “Sundown” is actually on my collection of Gordon Lightfoot songs.

I don’t recall hearing it, but Media Player’s shuffle doesn’t create a random list of songs, but instead shuffles mostly in place, so there’s no guarantee that it will pick that song, and I only listen for about an hour or two and so it might not have picked it.  I also listen to it while working and while doing other things so it’s entirely possible that it did come on and I didn’t notice it.  I can’t check to see if it’s listed on the CD’s listing in Media Player because, again, Media Player is being balky in identifying them (I really have no idea how it decides when to load them and when not to).  And I can’t be bothered to dig up the CD to check.  Eventually, I will settle this, but for now it’s a strange puzzle.

Anyway, after at least deciding that I didn’t care for Gordon Lightfoot, I have now discovered that I at least kinda do.  Make of that what you will.

All I Want For Christmas is Spoo

December 21, 2020
I don’t want a lot for Christmas
There is just one thing I need
I don’t care about the presents
Underneath the Christmas tree
I just want some for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
All I want for Christmas is spoo, yeah
I don’t want a lot for Christmas
There is just one thing I need
And I don’t care about the presents
Underneath the Christmas tree
I don’t need to hang my stocking
There upon the fireplace
Santa Claus won’t make me happy
With a toy on Christmas Day
I just want some for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
All I want for Christmas is spoo
Spoo, baby
Oh, I won’t ask for much this Christmas
I won’t even wish for snow
And I’m just gonna keep on waiting
Underneath the mistletoe
I won’t make a list and send it
To the North Pole for Saint Nick
I won’t even stay awake to
Hear those magic reindeer click
‘Cause I just want some here tonight
Sighing softly through the night
What more can I do?
Baby, all I want for Christmas is spoo
Spoo, baby
Oh, all the lights are shining so brightly everywhere
And the sound of children’s laughter fills the air
And everyone is singing
I hear those sleigh bells ringing
Santa, won’t you bring me what I really need?
Won’t you please bring my dinner to me?
Oh, I don’t want a lot for Christmas
This is all I’m asking for
I just wanna see my order
Sitting right outside my door
Oh, I just want some for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
Baby, all I want for Christmas… is spoo
Spoo, baby

The Music’s Back

August 28, 2020

So I’ve been working from home since March. What I had noticed is that I wasn’t listening to music at all, even while working. There were a few reasons for this. The first was that while I generally listened to music at work to generate noise, at home I tended to do that through the TV since it also gave me something to look at. The second was that to generate that noise I was watching TV shows like Dark Shadows and Smallville, and running them well into the afternoon, so I didn’t have that much time to listen anyway. The third is that setting up music to listen to while working from home was more difficult than it was otherwise, because I had generally listened to music with headphones on from a USB drive but the docking station at work had more slots available than what I have at home, so it would be more of a problem, and I certainly didn’t want to be using headphones while sitting in my office. The fourth is that at the time I didn’t really have any other good way to listen to music, as I didn’t have a place to put my own laptop and my DVD players and consoles didn’t do shuffle that well and my CD player only played one CD at a time (I did do it briefly with a Kylie Minogue CD and the radio, but not for any length of time). And finally, I had left the USB drives that had almost all of my music on them at work, leaving a decent but impoverished selection of music on USB drives at home, reducing me to CDs that I could listen to one at a time.

But recently, things changed.

The first thing that changed was that in July I picked up a replacement laptop and reorganized the room where I work and keep all my computer stuff. I cleared off an old desk that I had and bought a small monitor to put on it. This let me keep one of my own computers there while keeping my work computer on my other desk. It also allowed me to take the two speaker sets that I had for my computers and set one up on each desk. So now I’d have a set-up that could play music even while I was working and had the work computer set up. The second thing is that we had an all-staff meeting and the person handling the facilities for us commented that if we needed anything to just ask, so I asked them to ship my USBs here, meaning that I had pretty much my full set of music back in a form that I could play on the computer. And finally, various sports seasons started up again and had games in the afternoons, which meant that putting on a show and running it until 3 or 4 wasn’t going to work as well since I’d definitely want to stop and watch the hockey game (mostly).

So I’ve ended up with a new routine: in the morning, I watch a few game shows that I want to watch or at least can tolerate watching until they run out (at about 10). Then I boot up my old laptop — which is the one that typically sits on that other desk — and start listening to music from it until some point in the afternoon or evening, at which point I stop and usually watch DS9. This sometimes even carries on through the weekend, although less so because I spend less time simply sitting at a computer on the weekend and so TV works a lot better (there are more cases where I really want to stop and look at things).

So I’ve gone from almost never listening to music to listening to it pretty much every time, and enjoying it. How quickly things can completely change for me.

31 Songs …

April 24, 2020

John Scalzi put up a set of 31 songs under a 30 day challenge. Since he includes the criteria and I’m big on music, I thought it might be fun to try to fill them all in for myself. I’m not going to listen to them because the time I would listen to music — while working — is being taken up by “Dark Shadows”, and I’m not going to find videos of them because looking at videos is quite discouraged in my work set-up, so I’m just going to list the titles, and I’m going to avoid repeating songs:

1. A song you like with a color in the title: “Back in Black” by AC/DC
2. A song you like with a number in the title: “99 Red Balloons” by Nena
3. A song the reminds you of summertime: “Summer of 69” by Bryan Adams
4. A song that reminds you of someone you’d rather forget: “I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)” by Meatloaf
5. A song that needs to be played loud: “Hell’s Bells” by AC/DC
6. A song that makes you want to dance: “She Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC (this one was difficult because my mood triggers a desire to dance to a song, not the song itself)
7. A song to drive to: “Drive” by The Cars (taking the punny option here)
8. A song about drugs or alcohol: “Demon Alcohol” by Ozzy Osbourne
9. A song that makes you happy: “Eat My Brain” by the Odds
10. A song that makes you sad: “Where the Wild Roses Grow” by Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue
11. A song you never get tired of: “Ride On” by AC/DC (there are a ton of options here, as I have a tendency to like what I like and like it repeatedly long beyond the point where others would have gotten tired of it)
12. A song from your pre-teen years: “Fantasy” by Aldo Nova (it was on one of the first records I ever owned and I was reminded of it while playing Saint’s Row the Third)
13. A song you like from the 70s: “Highway to Hell” by AC/DC (a bit of a trend here, it seems [grin])
14. A song you’d love to be played at your wedding: “The Way You Look Tonight” by Ric Ocasek (I used “Drive” already, and this one does work for a wedding)
15. A song you like that’s a cover by another artist: “Land of Confusion” by Disturbed (assuming he means that you like the cover, since I like that cover better than the original, although I do like both)
16. A song that’s a classic favorite: “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler (I think that counts)
17. A song you’d sing a duet with someone on karaoke: “Falling in Love Again” by Michael Stanley (which was also on the first record I ever owned)
18. A song from the year you were born: “Spiders and Snakes” by Jim Stafford (listened to it a lot when I was young, oddly)
19. A song that makes you think about life: “Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are” by Meatloaf
20. A song that has many meanings for you: “Electric Barbarella” by Duran Duran (the actual meaning of the song, a link to the movie, and a link to a BSG PBF game)
21. A song you like with a person’s name in the title: “Amanda” by Boston (being reminded of this song got me to buy that CD)
22. A song that moves you forward: “Walk of Life” by Dire Straits (assuming that he means motivates you, and “Ride On” was already used)
23. A song you think everyone should listen to: “Porcelain” by Better Than Ezra (mostly because of the interesting aesthetic it has)
24. A song by a band you wish were still together: “You Might Think” by The Cars (most of the bands I really like either are still together or I have no idea of their status)
25. A song you like by an artist no longer living: “Emotion in Motion” by Ric Ocasek
26. A song that makes you want to fall in love: “I Want to Know What Love is” by Foreigner
27. A song that breaks your heart: “Love to Love You” by The Coors
28: A song by an artist whose voice you love: “Broken” by Seether featuring Amy Lee (I like Amy Lee’s voice)
29: A song you remember from your childhood: “I’ve Done Everything For You” by Rick Springfield
30: A song that reminds you of yourself: “Underwhelmed” by Sloan (this one was kinda obvious)
31: A song you wanted to put into the list but didn’t otherwise get to: “Save a Prayer” by Duran Duran (if I actually stopped to think about it, the list would be very, very long, so this is one of the first that came to mind)

I didn’t take much time to think about it, but I think it worked out pretty well, and was kinda fun.

Where’s the Music Gone?

July 22, 2019

I noticed something odd recently. In general, I’m a big fan of music. It’s about the only art form that I consistently enjoy other than literature. I used to listen to music constantly whenever I was at home as background noise. I’m addicted to video game soundtracks. I have an entire set of channels of music videos to have on in the background while doing other things. I’ve copied my entire CD collection to a USB drive to listen to at work. In general, I’ve had music on pretty much constantly whenever I’m doing pretty much anything.

Except lately.

Lately, I haven’t listened to music much at all. I noticed that I hadn’t listened to any music — all of my CDs are on a USB drive because my CD player broke — for months. I then listened to music for about an hour just because I was reminded that I should. I also noticed that I hadn’t watched that video channel for months and then put it on for a couple of sessions just because I was reminded that I hadn’t, and haven’t done it since. At work, because of my watching Voyager and then wanted to re-watch the SF Debris videos on it I haven’t been listening to music and instead have been watching — or, rather, mostly listening — to his videos. I played the Suikoden III intro a couple of times when I wanted to drown out background noise and didn’t want to start another video. But I hadn’t been listening to music that much at work for months previously anyway. About the only time I still listen to music is while driving, and that pretty much ends up being either Duran Duran’s Greatest Hits or The Cars’ Greatest Hits, where I listen to one of them for months before switching to the other one.

So why am I not listening to music as much anymore? Well, as pointed out above, I’ve substituted video in for that, mostly to give me something to watch when I look up from whatever I’m doing or need to take a short break to wait for something. Music doesn’t work that way. It’s great at — and, to be honest, generally better at — drowning out background noise, but that’s all it does. If I’m reading or playing a game or waiting for a compile all that it’s doing is drowning out the background noise. It doesn’t do anything to keep me occupied or entertained in slow periods. Sure, it also doesn’t distract me from what I’m doing either — this is one reason why videos aren’t as good when I’m merging code, as they distract me from doing that at times while music keeps me for being bored out of my skull without distracting me — but for the most part I can do things while having at least TV shows on in the background (the SF Debris videos are more distracting but do work for the most part).

To be honest, this has been happening more and more over the past few years. It’s just been pretty dramatic lately. And is something I noted because, again, I used to listen to music all the time, and now rarely do it if I’m not driving somewhere. It’s just … odd.

All my scheduled games are PC now.

November 30, 2016

(Loosely to the tune of “All My Rowdy Friends” by Hank Williams Jr.)

All my scheduled games are PC now
That I can only really play in the middle room
So I can’t really play while watchin’ TV
While sitting in the living room

I myself have seen my console days
And those games are still at the top of the page
When I need to find a game just to play around
But none of them are scheduled right now
And all my scheduled games are PC now

And I think I could play a Persona game
But I’ve got too many games from Good Old Games
So many that I can’t keep ’em straight

And even though I’m home more these days
See none of them are scheduled right now
And all my scheduled games are PC now

And the leftovers annoy more then they used to
And Bloodlines and TOR took the place of Wii and PS4
And it seems like I really don’t do things quite like I used to do
And none of those are scheduled right now
And all scheduled games are PC now

Yeah, I think I could play Fatal Frame
But those Good Old Games don’t cost a lot of cash
Don’t crash like they did back in 2008

And right now I’m a Toreador playin’ in L.A.
And none of those games are scheduled now
‘Cause all my scheduled games are PC now

It’s Magic …

November 23, 2016

Dinner, it turns me upside down
Dinner, dinner, dinner
It’s like a merry go round
I see it under the midnight
All steamers and bowls
High pans with the meat a sizzlin’
A tempermental glow

Oh, think it’s time to go
Oh, I’m gonna have some spoo
I’m gonna have some spoo
I’m gonna have some spoo tonight
Oh, I’m gonna have some spoo
I’m gonna have some spoo (I’m gonna have some spoo)
I’ll check

(Oh oh it’s magic) when I eat spoo (oh oh it’s magic)
(Oh oh it’s magic) just a little magic
You know it’s true
I’m gonna have some spoo

Oh, twisted under sideways down
I know I’m getting twisted
And I can’t calm down
I see it under the midnight
Love darts in my eyes
How far can I take it?
‘Till I realize
There’s magic in my eyes

I’m gonna have some spoo
I’m gonna have some spoo
I’m gonna have some spoo tonight
I’m gonna have some spoo
I’m gonna have some spoo
(I’m gonna have some spoo) yeah, yeah, uh

(Oh oh, it’s magic)
Oh oh, when I have spoo
(Oh oh, it’s magic)
Just a little bit of the magic
Pulls me through
I’m gonna have some spoo

I’m gonna have some spoo
I’m gonna have some spoo
(I’m gonna have some spoo)
Just try, it’s magic
(Oh oh, it’s magic)
Oh oh, it’s magic
When I eat spoo (oh oh, it’s magic)

Just a little bit of magic inside of you (Oh oh, it’s magic)

Just a little bit of magic
That’s true, when I eat spoo
(Oh oh, it’s magic)
(It gotta be magic)
Your magic pulls me through
Oh oh, it’s magic
(Oh oh, it’s magic)

Why Can’t I Have Spoo?

November 16, 2016

I’ve been watching Babylon 5 and listening to The Cars lately, and it has inspired another song parody:

My dreamy lips, set in motion, flashing
Their breathless hush, poundin’ soft, lasting
Oh glossy mouth, a taste untamed, moving
Carousel, up and down
Just like spoo

Oh baby
Just one more time to touch spoo
Just one more time to eat spoo
It’s on my mind
Baby, why can’t I have spoo?
It’s breakin’ my heart in two
You know what I’m goin’ through
Oh baby, why can’t I have spoo?

Oh candy smile, all the while, glinting
Your eyes like mica, a lethal pout, hinting
(Felt the pressure)
Oh and I felt the pressure, tight and warm, softly striking
(Oh tripped and stumbled)
Oh I tripped and stumbled
I cling forever
I’ll eat tonight

Oh baby
Just one more time to touch spoo
Just one more time to eat spoo
I think I’m blind
Baby, why can’t I have spoo?
It’s breakin’ my heart in two
You know what I’m goin’ through
Uh oh baby, why can’t I have spoo?

(Baby) oh baby (why can’t I have spoo?) why can’t I have spoo?
You know what I’m goin’ through
(It’s breakin’ my heart in two)
It’s breakin’ my heart, breakin’ my heart
(Don’t know what I’m gonna do)
(You’re breakin’ my heart) breakin’ my heart
(Baby) oh baby (why can’t I have spoo?) I need spoo
(You know what I’m goin’ through)
It’s breakin’ my heart (it’s breakin’ my heart in two)
Oh baby, I need spoo so much, I need spoo, much
(Don’t know what I’m gonna do)
(You’re breakin’ my heart)
(Baby) oh baby (why can’t I have spoo?)
(You know what I’m goin’ through)

“Best” Soundtracks?

March 16, 2016

So, on my recent post on my favourite soundtracks, Malcolm the Cynic left a comment linking to the “To the Moon” soundtrack, calling it “the very best”. Now, I’m pretty certain that he didn’t mean this as a real qualitative comparison, but it got me thinking about what it would mean for a soundtrack to be “the very best”.

The thing about soundtracks for video games, specifically, that’s different than regular music is that it’s difficult to evaluate them independently of the games in which they appear, because their primary purpose is always to supplement the game and gameplay. They are there to make the cutscenes more memorable — which they share with soundtracks of all sorts — but also to play in the background and enhance the gameplay experience. They thus not only provide background moods for the narrative, but provide background moods for the gameplay, and as such have to encourage the player to play the game according to the gameplay: cautious when necessary, aggressive when necessary. It has to enhance panic when you need to move quickly … or, in fact, even and perhaps especially when you don’t. It has to provide the background to scare you and make you tense if the game is supposed to be doing that, without distracting you or clashing with the gameplay that you’re supposed to be experiencing at the moment. Which can, as an aside, lead to the odd case like I had in Mass Effect 2, where I had a foolproof way to determine when to take cover because combat was happening: listen for when the music change to the battle theme [grin].

Anyway, given this, video game soundtracks can pretty much only be evaluated based on how well they support the game they’re in. Yes, we can enjoy them musically, but ultimately their qualitative value can’t be judged separately from the work they were created to support. For example, I’ve listened to the “To the Moon” soundtrack, and musically I enjoy it but find it a bit repetitive, as it is mostly just repetitions on the same theme. But while I haven’t played that game, I can easily imagine that, given its subject matter, that’s precisely what you want there. On the other hand, Suikoden III has a much wider variety of musical styles because it’s meant to convey themes for a wide variety of locations and cultures. Should we argue that “To the Moon” is inferior because it doesn’t have more variety, or that Suikoden III is inferior because its soundtrack is less consistent? The truth is that both fit their games well, and so that shouldn’t be what determines their quality.

I’ve commented before about Persona 3 and Persona 4 with regards to their soundtracks, in that Persona 3 is better musically but with Persona 4 when you listen to it you associate the themes with specific people. Given that Persona 4’s dungeons were definitely more character associated than Persona 3’s, this makes sense, as without any other reason to care about the dungeon one wants that music that you’re going to be listening to for hours — a major difference between movie soundtracks and video game soundtracks — you want it to be entertaining and definitely not boring, while in Persona 4 you want it to remind you of why you’re here to drive you forward. Again, the different soundtracks drive different experiences in the game, and thus fulfill their purpose, I’d say, roughly equally well.

Ultimately, being the “best” soundtrack is less important as being one that properly enhances the gaming experience. So while it’s not completely subjective, it’s not really objective either. Perhaps it’s best if we just enjoy them, and not argue over them or rate them beyond “I really like this one”.

My favourite soundtracks …

March 9, 2016

So, after mentioning on a few occasions that soundtracks are my life, today I’d like to list a few of my favourites.

While I’ve listened to game soundtracks since high school — a friend of mine actually taped a number of them and gave me a copy, which was reasonable since some of the ones he taped were, well, from my games [grin] — what rekindled my love for soundtracks was probably Suikoden III, although that was mostly only due to the very effective intro. I never did manage to get an actual CD for the soundtrack of this game

One of the first — if not the first — actual full CDs that I got was for Persona 3, and by Persona 4 I was pre-ordering games just to get the soundtracks.

Silent Hill Shattered Memories is one of the first games that I bought mostly to get the soundtrack, and that I’ve never really played (although it does sound like an interesting game). Mostly, though, the title track and the creepy version of “You Were Always On My Mind” are what keeps me listening to the soundtrack (while continuing to ignore the game).

Of the more recent games (kinda, I guess), I’ve just recently discovered and listened to the Mass Effect soundtrack, inspired by a time when listening to soundtracks on youtube was my best bet and by a Twitter comment by Shamus Young praising the soundtrack. I’m not as impressed with the soundtracks of the other two games, though.

The same can pretty much be said for the Dragon Age soundtrack, although it’s a completely different style than Mass Effect, which should be kinda obvious.

And finally, I should make some mention of Conception II, if for no other reason than the fact that I’ve played the game and listened to the soundtrack … and would much rather listen to the soundtrack, which is the only thing that makes getting the collector’s version worth it.