Sound City / “Famous Blue Raincoat” by Leonard Cohen

Happy New Year, all! I hope you enjoyed good company and delicious food over the holidays. And hydro. That crazy ice storm really threw a lot of people for a loop.

I spent two weeks in Owen Sound with my family. Two weeks of down time, visits and palatal indulgence (with a bout of the flu thrown in for good measure). Two weeks free from textbook readings. And the best part? Spending time with my ridiculously adorable five-month-old niece. (She’s my cousin’s baby, which technically makes her my second cousin or something like that, but for all sakes and purposes she will know me as Aunt Becky.) There is nothing like a smiling, giggling baby to get the ol’ biological clock roaring away in your ears (and nothing like the bald facts that you’re a single, thirty-one-year-old student who enjoys sleeping in to quiet that clock the eff down).

It seems the only time I rent movies the old-fashioned way is when I’m in Owen Sound. I went to Phil & Bill’s Video Emporium, a former Blockbuster store. (My friend and I once went to a group interview at Blockbuster, back in the day. Have you ever heard of a group interview? I hadn’t, until I applied to Blockbuster. All of us applicants were standing in a circle and the interview leaders announced that each of us would have to stand in the middle of the circle and tell a joke, sing a song or teach everyone a dance. I wanted to walk out of the interview right then and there. I should have. Let’s just say my punchline fell flat, right on top of my sense of dignity. Group interviews are a horrendously embarrassing process and the likely cause of Blockbuster’s death. The whole ‘Internet killed the video store’ theory is whack.)

I rented Sound City, and my parents and I watched it together. Six thumbs up. Sound City made me excited about music again. For too long now, music has been something that I used to do. Someone that I used to be. 2013 was supposed to have been my ‘Year of Songwriting’. That, it was definitely not. I make no such resolutions or promises for 2014. I’ve learned that I don’t do well with grand, public proclamations.

So, I’d like to share two clips with you. The first is from Sound City, “Time Slowing Down” by Brad Wilk, Tim Commerford, Dave Grohl and Chris Goss. It’s not so much the song itself that grabs me (although I do like the song, especially the riff). It’s the footage of one musician (Rage Against the Machine bassist Tim Commerford) showing another (Dave Grohl) a musical idea on the studio floor. Dave Grohl at 3:04 is my favourite part. THAT is what makes me excited about music. When someone hears something in a song and their reaction is ‘Oh my f*cking god!’

The second clip I’d like to share with you is Leonard Cohen’s “Famous Blue Raincoat”. I caught the tail end of an episode of Stuart McLean’s Vinyl Cafe this morning on CBC Radio 2, and this song played. (I’m somewhat ashamed to admit that I’m not familiar with the vast majority of Leonard Cohen’s material. I had to Google a line of the lyrics to find out the artist and the name of the song.) I was stretching, waiting for the kettle to boil, when I heard “It’s four in the morning, the end of December/I’m writing you now just to see if you’re better/New York is cold but I like where I’m living/There’s music on Clinton Street all through the evening.” As the song played on, my reaction was ‘Oh my f*cking god!’ A quick search informed me that “Famous Blue Raincoat” is from the Songs of Love and Hate album (an album title which is appropriately in line with my life at this time). So I went out to HMV and it just so happens that Songs of Love and Hate was on for $4.99. $4.99! To boot, they had a ‘Buy 3, Get 1 Free’ sale on. So I left HMV with four CDs for $16.95. Call me old-fashioned.