1. Thomas Sowell, the renowned economist and conservative thinker, has retired from column writing.* He also turned 87 not too long ago, as did Harold Bloom,** who is one of the greatest literary critics of all time. As the years pass, I keep wondering who will replace these brilliant minds.
Reading well is one of the great pleasures that solitude can afford you. —Harold Bloom
Much of the social history of the Western world, over the past three decades, has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good. —Thomas Sowell
2. Three songs I’m obsessed with: Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” because I was daydreaming and came up with an awesome idea for a music video for it, Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me” because all of a sudden the radio started playing it a lot and I don’t think I had ever heard it before, and Julia Michaels’s “Issues” because it describes a nice mix of dysfunction and commitment.
3. Here’s a picture of a double rainbow (although you can barely see the outer one). Trust me… there were two.
*I highly recommend Sowell’s The Vision of the Anointed (1995).
**I highly recommend Bloom’s How to Read and Why (2000).
It’s kind of late in the game to be writing about a song that was released in 2014, but it’s being played on the so-called “family-friendly” station constantly for some reason, and every time I turn on the radio, I bump into it. Elle King’s “Ex’s & Oh’s” is a bit of pseudo-musical grime about a so-called “liberated woman” who is haunted by her past lovers.
The lyrics of the bridge are beautifully arrogant:
One, two, three, they gonna run back to me
‘Cause I’m the best baby that they never gotta keep
One, two, three, they gonna run back to me
They always wanna come, but they never wanna leave
Nice double entendre about coming and leaving, then the assumption that all these guys will want to run straight back to her because she’s apparently “the best” but nobody can keep her because she’s just so hard to get. Too bad she didn’t listen to any other similar-sounding pop stars. Then she’d realize she’s a dime a dozen.
Yes, this isn’t the dirtiest song on the radio, but the fact that it’s dirty and slutty (ooh, I slut-shamed… how dare me?!?) doesn’t bother me as much as the fact that it represents sheer arrogance or that the radio station that plays the song used to play decent music when I first started listening to them, and now they’re playing more and more popular songs and less of the “good stuff” from the 80s and 90s. Children listen to this station all the time, so I guess their parents will just have to convince them that Elle King’s song is about tic-tac-toe. Or if all else fails, they could listen to the Kidz Bop version, which replaces the words “lover” and “baby” with “friend” and “come” with “hang.” (Actually, no. Don’t listen to that.)
Moral of the story: If you have children, don’t turn on mainstream radio unless you happen to have a commercial-free classical music station being broadcast near you.
I would say that “Heathens” by Twenty One Pilots is the most different song on the radio right now, probably because it isn’t about love or sex and it has a grunge vibe that hearkens back to the 1990s. The song is on the soundtrack of Suicide Squad, which I didn’t see because it is an action movie geared toward teenage boys and 20-something men (AKA a genre I am thoroughly sick of). Even before I knew the song had been on a movie soundtrack, I thought that it sounded appropriate for that purpose because of its dark, dramatic undertone and that weird crunchy guitar sound that got clearer and clearer during the song until it became “Watch it!”
I don’t know if “Heathens” was written specifically for the movie, but it certainly seems like it was. Suicide Squad is about a bunch of misfits from a secret government agency who are tasked with (big surprise—it’s a superhero movie) saving the world. They’re all crazy, they’re all “heathens,” and they’re all apparently ready to snap at the drop of a hat. I also imagined that “Heathens” would be the perfect song for a story I wrote, but the story takes place in 2012, and having a song from 2016 in the soundtrack would be just a tiny bit of an anachronism.
On a more negative note, it’s a little sad that “Heathens” won a Grammy for Best Rock Song when it seems to be light rock or rap-rock at best. What happened to the days of “Bullet With Butterfly Wings,” “Big Empty,” and “Better Man“? (Hey, allow me to have a little millennial nostalgia.) 🙂