Author Archives: ehrgeiz91

“Stranger in Moscow” — Michael Jackson

Whether or not you’re big into MJ is kind of irrelevant.

Any self-respecting music fan can’t deny the talent, skill, and perfectionism of the man who changed music forever. Besides, there’s rarely anything that comes out of the music or entertainment industry these days that doesn’t make a nod toward Michael – so, chances are, if you like any music that has been created within the last thirty years, you have him to thank for it – at least in part. Because he changed everything.

His death affected me profoundly in a way that no artist’s or celebrity’s has or probably ever will again. When I listen to “Stranger In Moscow” – not a big hit of his, though I think it should’ve been – I get a vivid and emotional glimpse not only of his own life, but of his commonality with his fans, with everyone. Here was a man who was troubled, perhaps more than we’ll ever know, and unfortunately it’s that kind of life that often drives genius.

The music video is, in my opinion, a must-view with the song since Michael was, after all, deeply involved in every aspect of his work. Maybe you can’t relate to being a “Stranger In Moscow”, but you’ve been a stranger somewhere, “living lonely”. You can replace the “Kremlin’s shadow” and “Stalin’s tomb” with anything really. You can see yourself within any of the characters in the video – we’ve all been at that place in our lives, at one point or another, where you drop the umbrella and just walk into the rain. Maybe you’re hoping it washes away whatever you’re feeling. I think Michael wanted to wash away the entire world-the world that constantly loved and hated Michael, fiercely and incessantly, for his entire life. For Michael, “abandoned in my fame”, he hoped he could escape like all the other normal people, hoping they would just “take my name and just let me be”.

It’s a sad thing, no? But there’s an uplifting moment, I think, towards the end when everyone is standing out in the rain. The black and white washes over them and suddenly they find an escape, a moment where nothing really matters. Michael probably had precious few of those moments, certainly fewer than most of us have had. Despite the fame and fortune, I think he’s a prime example of the cliché “money can’t buy happiness”. He was one of us, he was a human being and he was the King of Pop, all at once. I think you’ve achieved true musical and artistic perfection when you achieve that balance, that place where people can see you for you, and you for your talent. I only hope his time with his kids and family and the love of his fans brought him some peace before we lost him.

Image courtesy of http://www.hollywoodgo.com.

Rest In peace, Michael Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009).


Find more artists like Michael Jackson at Myspace Music.

“I Need Air” — Magnetic Man

I first heard Magnetic Man‘s “I Need Air” in the bar at the Generator Hostel in Camden Town, London. I don’t think all songs have to be about the depth of the lyrics – there’s a simplicity here that really caught me the moment I heard it and it really stuck. I guess sometimes it’s not the lyrical genius of songs that mesmerizes us, but the feeling and moment of life that occurs during that first listen.

Perhaps it was the few drinks in me…or maybe it was the fact that it was my first time being (legally) in a bar, my first time being overseas, my first time travelling just with friends – many firsts were happening. Whatever *it* was, when that trance-y beat started I was hooked. The atmosphere in the music video is somewhat indicative of my experience – the blue lights and flashing strobes of the bar and the flying colors on the dance floor were almost too much. The music took me.

My friends and I danced, we drank, we had the time of our lives. We were 3000 miles away from home. There was an unmatched feeling there, something I’ve yet to experience since and that I’m sure awaits me again only in London or a similarly distant locale.

Electrify my body
And you’re makin me feel
Like I’m so electric
Everything you do is makin me
Blow Blow Blow

Don’t know what to do about it
Can’t see how I’d live without it
All I wanna do is just
Know Know Know

You suffocate my mind
And now my atmosphere is crowded
And you being here is makin me
Blow Blow Blow

You penetrate my space
And now I’m looking out of place
And you’re makin it hard for me
I need air!

The chaos of that experience was strange, beautiful and suffocating all at once – that constant beat was like a wave and we were dancing on top of it. The bar was a sea of blues, greens and reds. Trippy. There was a moment where the music, the colors and the atmosphere were all one.

“I Need Air” is now one of my favorite party songs — but it’s more than that. Despite the simplicity of the lyrics, there’s something to be said here: a party, a dance floor or whatever escapist venue you might find is a welcome and constantly sought-after haven from reality. And if you find that haven crowds your space, suffocates you or feels as if it is about to blow, you can find the way through with music like this. You can let yourself go.

Kaleidoscope of colours that you’re bringing me
You’re freaking out my energy
I’m loosin and you’re makin me
Low Low Low

Don’t know what to do about it
You and I can’t live without it
All I wanna do is just
Go Go Go

You smother my emotions
Now I’m drowning in your ocean
And I’m runnin and I’m feeling like
I don’t care

You penetrate my space
And now you’re looking out of place
‘Cos you’re makin this hard for me
I need air!

Those moments in London became a kaleidoscope as the colors and vibrance of the scene suddenly rushed into the dark, flashing bar where in a single moment I seemed to experience what the city was about all at once. London = *life*. You don’t need the stunning visuals of the music video to experience that kind of natural high – you just need this song, a euphoric energy, and a venue (a physical one or one created in your mind). I was totally myself when I first experienced this song and when I hear it now, I continue to feel like it’s okay for me to be who I really am and I don’t have to care whether or not anyone else approves. It was liberating.

Now that I’m back in the states, I listen to this song to immerse myself in those memories and capture that feeling of freedom once again (and again and again). Care to join me in my reverie? The formula for getting there is a simple one: turn off all your lights, play the video at full-screen and pump up the volume until the music is so eclipsing that you need air.


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“The Suburbs” — Arcade Fire

“The Suburbs” is the heavy opener and titular track from Arcade Fire’s grammy winning latest album. It is, in my opinion, a near-perfect opening and a summary for the entirety of the album. I myself, and I believe anyone, can connect with the universal message here that is perhaps not unique, but nevertheless both heart-wrenching and beautiful.

In the suburbs I
I learned to drive
And you told me we’d never survive
Grab your mother’s keys we’re leavin’

You always seemed so sure
That one day we’d be fighting
A suburban war
your part of town against mine
I saw you standing on the opposite shore

But by the time the first bombs fell
We were already bored
We were already, already bored

There is a clear idea here of an apocalypse, be it a literal one or rather the emotional wrecking of one’s reality. The secure bubble of childhood lost, “moving past the feeling” into the crushing sterility and starkness of consciousness, “into the night.” Right off there’s a sense of nostalgia, a feeling that for me almost becomes bitter throughout the song. The idea of a naïve sense of boredom even as “the first bombs fell” lends itself to the prominent theme of childhood.

Kids wanna be so hard
But in my dreams we’re still screaming, running through the yard

There’s a heartbreaking realization there: the difference in today’s youth and that of the suburb-dwelling generation of the 1970s. The responsibilities given and the adult roles taken by today’s youth are in stark contrast to the quieter, simpler beauty of a childhood spent in what seems in retrospect a dreamlike innocence.

The poignant image of “all of the houses they built in the seventies finally fall,” i.e., the death of the quintessential suburb, is I believe one of the key lines of the song. There’s a repeated reference throughout of a reverence for the past, the time before the end of the peaceful life of the suburbs. That part of life passes like “it meant nothing at all.” I see it as less of a physical end and perhaps more of a coming-of-age story, a classic pining for the days before the stifling, mind-numbing complacency of adulthood. The playful, simple chords would help suggest this; there’s a clear childlike playfulness throughout, despite the underlying melancholy of the lyrics.

After these unpleasant truths we’re asked:

So can you understand
Why I want a daughter while I’m still young
I wanna hold her hand
And show her some beauty
Before this damage is done

This phrase almost brings me to tears. After the clear ending of an entire way of life, growing up on a natural, untouched beauty, the onslaught of adulthood and the horrors faced in this modern age by ourselves and by nature brings a desperate desire for a daughter before it’s too late. To show her the beauty of the world while it still stands, before the evils we’ve set upon it rend it to an incomprehensible form. I can’t wait to have kids, because even in my short lifespan I’ve watched my childhood playgrounds become dangerous, supervision-dependent havens in what were once green and unfettered imaginariums. Even as air quality warnings prevent us from setting foot outside with a clear head and a worry-free heart, it’s imperative that we show our children the beauty still left in this world…that we watch the cool air kick up the skirts and blow the hair of our futures as they run out to play.

Image courtesy of http://www.burningwell.org


Under the overpass
In the parking lot we’re still waiting

It’s already passed

So move your feet from hot pavement and into the grass

Cause it’s already passed
It’s already, already passed

Whatever thing passes, be it a storm representative of the dangers we’ll face or indeed a hint of the coming end of our kid kingdom, we’re beckoned to move off the steaming pavement and feel the pleasantness of the cool grass between our toes.

Sometimes I can’t believe it
I’m movin’ past the feeling
Sometimes I can’t believe it
I’m movin’ past the feeling again

I know I already can’t believe the years that have passed, though I still (God-willing) have many yet ahead. Here we see that the narrator is moving past that stage of his life, moving on for better or for worse. But there’s clearly a lingering memory of a simpler time, of a better time. What we make of our future is all on us, and perhaps the only saving grace of the loss of that physical and mental world is that we learned from it what lessons we could. Regardless of how much we separate ourselves from whatever golden age we experienced, in our dreams “we’re still screamin.”


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