Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Invigorating Effect Of A Relentless Beat

New Sensation (INXS)
Songs with a repetitive guitar riff or a relentless beat always have me feeling especially invigorated and inspired –– and simultaneously at peace. This feeling often draws me to songs produced in the 80's in terms of tempo and style. There's a reason songs from that era have been sampled so much, as they tend to have unique and signature beats.  
Take Me Home (Phil Collins)
My enjoyment of a repetitive beat or riff could also be due to personal energy. We all have varying types of energy. What moves us can be determined by our chemical makeup. Other people are affected similarly by certain rap or hip-hop songs, or music with epic, dramatic tones (bands like Arcade Fire and The Killers.) These are examples of music with sounds that leave me cold & bored by what I feel is an inauthentic attempt at seeming powerful, or important. That's not intended to offend anyone who disagrees –– just my personal perception.
Boys Of Summer (Don Henley, looking like Bryan Cranston)
Whether repetition is found in a hard rock song, or in a mellow tune, a driving pulse-like rhythm –– so often found in 80's productions (examples below) –– bring me to life in a profound way. Famed neurologist Oliver Sack describes various musical phenomenon related to rhythms, beats –– even how people can suffer because of them –– in his wonderful book Musicophilia. There are some fascinating neurological elements at play in the very personalized ways we hear and respond to music. Songs with repetitive beats and rhythms can also harder for me to ignore. So if one of them starts to play somewhere, I have a tougher time tuning it out, my heart starts pumping and I'm invigorated by that driving sound. 
Boys Of Summer (Don Henley)
I also find this type of song more meaningful and symbolic of life –– because there can be a certain day-to-day drudgery, routine and repetitiveness to life you have to just give in to and surrender to in order to overcome or transcend it... Maybe surrendering to the beat of a certain song has a similar affect. The following are several songs that capture that for me (there's plenty more, but these were the first ones that came to mind) either with their beats, meanings or both. Also interesting to note that two of the songs that came to mind here are solo efforts by artists who are drummers at their core (Phil Collins and Don Henley) –– as this is essentially beat-driven music.

'New Sensation' by INXS
'Save It For Later' by English Beat
'Boys of Summer' by Don Henley (looking like Bryan Cranston)
Don Henley - Boys Of Summer by jpdc11
'Temptation' (Live) by New Order
'Take Me Home' by Phil Collins
'Panama' by Van Halen
'Everybody Wants to Rule the World' by Tears for Fears
'I'm Your Man' by Wham!
'Brilliant Disguise' by Bruce Springsteen
'More Than This' by Roxy Music
Do you relate –– and do you have other examples of songs with that similar driving beat and persistence?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

How Much I Adore Mary Tyler Moore

If you happen to be part of my niche audience, you might have expected that this blog post could "make it after all" since my adoration for Mary Tyler Moore is no secret. It's been evident here on Retro Active Critiques (see the side bar and various posts) along with elsewhere with my online presence (and videos), just as it has been in my personal life.
As a boundless Mary fan, I'm happy to see her acknowledged for her significant contributions to TV and films, once again, as she should be. I'm glad she was recently honored by The Screen Actors' Guild with a Lifetime Achievement Award, an award she chose to have presented to her by none other than her equally adorable TV husband from long ago, Dick Van Dyke. She's entertained us for decades and continues to enchant audiences with her positive energy and smile –– so the recognition is more than deserved.

Here's to MTM aka Mary Richards aka Laura Petrie.
I can never get through 'Ordinary People' without crying my eyes out, in large part because of Mary Tyler Moore's uncharacteristically cold performance. Her stoniness is so viable, it makes us feel even more sympathy for her family, as we should.
MTM is also one of the namesakes for my cat, Mary Jane Goodnight.
Mary Jane Goodnight
She's been a huge part of my life, especially during rougher times when I just needed to feel better and relax in the comfort of my 'Mary Tyler Moore Show' DVD set, some years before Hulu. I'd rest my woes against the pleasant, soft light and coziness of the 70's travails of Mary Richards and company. That show is my safe and gentle form of escapism.
And don't get me started on 'Thoroughly Modern Millie' and Change of Habit'.
I dressed up as Mary Richards for Halloween in 2008, wearing my own clothes. From my closet. Items I actually wear. Weird, perhaps –– but it made creating a last-minute costume amazingly simple to pull together!
Mary Richards. My Mary Tyler Moore Halloween costume in 2008.
I also pleaded with my husband for weeks (maybe it was months) to dress up as Rob and Laura Petrie for Halloween last year. Even though he finally refused, I almost convinced him. Which also says a lot for Mary Tyler Moore, Dick Van Dyke, and a TV show from five decades ago. They are without a question my favorite TV couple (one I can completely relate to, even today) and 'The Dick Van Dyke' show remains one of my personal favorite shows to watch, over and over again.
I could go on to make this a very lengthier, gushing blog post. I won't do that, because I simply wanted to share a little more love for Mary, even at a time when 'love is all around' her. Again, as it should be.