Ah, Friday. You’re here! I’ve been anxiously awaiting your return since Sunday night.  I welcome you with open arms and a song that will surely put a pep in your step.  For those of you who know me, you know that I am a bit of a Michael Jackson junkie.  For those of you who don’t know me, hello! I’m a bit of a Michael Jackson junkie.  When my sister and I were growing up, one of our most played VHS tapes was a collection of Michael Jackson videos.  We don’t watch it anymore…because we now own it on DVD and, well, YouTube happened.  I remember exactly where I was standing when I got a text on June 25, 2009, saying that Michael Jackson had died and I remember that I cried big, fat tears while watching his memorial service on TV. (I’m sorry, if you didn’t cry during Usher’s rendition of Gone Too Soon you best check to make sure you have a soul ASAP.)

 

I had a bit of a Sybil-esque moment when I first heard that Xscape, a new Michael Jackson album, was being released.  Yes, another posthumous album by the King of Pop himself.  Part of me felt like a kid on Christmas Eve: giddy with anticipation and intoxicated by the urge to jump up and down while clapping with anyone who would join me.  I had a conflicting thought while mid-jump.  There’s a reason Michael Jackson didn’t choose to release these songs.  While I am not privy to the reason, I do know there must be one.  It’s not like the man was ever short on music.  And, how awful is it that the Jackson family is still trying to make money off of his death?  Surely his other albums still sell well, right?  Surely the movie “This Is It” helped the family financially.  Surely this, surely that – morally I don’t agree with it.

 

Yet still, curiosity got the best of me when the Michael Jackson Facebook page posted that a version of Love Never Felt So Good featuring both Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake had been released.  MJ and JT? My two favorite sets of initials together on one song? I had to check it out.  I’m  not going to say that I’m okay with the release of the song or the album as a whole, but  I will say that I’m bouncing around as I type this and I’m pretty upset I wasn’t asked to be a dancer in the video.  The song oozes pure joy.  Absolutely oozes it.  I’m talking Pharrell’s Happy level of happiness here.  I challenge even the grumpiest of grumps to watch this video and not feel the urge to smile.  Jackson and Timberlake compliment each other and approach the song with a matching level of enthusiasm. It’s contagious and a nice homage to vintage MJ, and the addition of Timberlake doesn’t hurt.  It’s a song with the King of Pop and his successor.

 

I certainly don’t think this is Jackson’s best work, but I would have to assume that even at his worst, the man would still come across as a musical genius and genuine artist.  That said, I’m not opposed to listening to this song on repeat if I ever need a pick me up or a quick dance session, but I won’t be purchasing the album, strictly due to my principles.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for the aforementioned quick dance session and inevitable mental battle over this song.

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Here’s a harsh realization.  I’m at an age where I’m choosing to write about a book in my spare time, rather than for a homework assignment. [Quickly recites a poem memorized in high school to prove I'm not decrepit and I've still got it.  In case you're wondering, I've still got it.  And in case you're nosy, it was A Poison Tree by William Blake.]

Miss Peregrine Cover 2

I’ve always been a bit fascinated by books.  The worlds they introduce you to and the journey that can be taken simply by reading words on a page is one in which I become easily enthralled.  Well, at least that’s how it was when I was younger.  Books would come with me on the shortest of road trips.  In fact, I once brought a book to a play so I could read during intermission.  I know what you’re thinking…and no, I did not have a Steve Urkel-like childhood.  Once I was into a book, it was just hard for me to come back to the real world until I had read the very last word on the very last page.  I hadn’t had that feeling in a few years, but I’m pleased to say I just revisited it and have a particular book to thank for the happy homecoming.

 

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children reignited a part of my imagination I assumed had rather rudely taken a leave of absence.  That missing sense of wide eyed wonderment came rushing back halfway through the first chapter.  Ransom Riggs, the creator of this twisted world, not only told the story through his words. He peppered the book with authentic, vintage photographs he’s collected at various antique stores and flea markets.  The haunting images made the world of Miss Peregrine even more convincing and thus even more bewitching to me as a reader.

Miss Peregrine - Inner Photo

There’s something to be said about the power of a child’s imagination.  If only we could tap into our former selves as adults – the things that would be invented!  For 352 pages, I felt what I thought was a long forgotten childlike sense of an imaginary, but seemingly legitimate, world.  So much so that I purchased the sequel before I finished the book.  No matter the genre of book you prefer, I strongly encourage you to revisit your former naivete and step into Ransom Riggs’ world of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.  You, along with your elementary school self, will be pleasantly surprised.

 

 

 

 


A lot of my friends have songs with their dads.  Popular among the crowd is Butterfly Kisses by Bob Carlisle, Dance with my Father by Luther Vandross, Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison and the like.  These are the songs that come on over the loudspeaker of a department store and elicit a cock of the head, a smile and a comment similar to, “awwwww, this is my song with my dad!”  And the crowd croons along with him or her.  I’m no different.  Though my dad song certainly is.

She Drives Me Crazy by Fine Young Cannibals isn’t necessarily a heart wrenching song about the relationship between a man and his daughter, nor is it one that most would associate with their parents, particularly when the child – parent relationship is a good one.  Yet each time I hear that guitar intro, my dad’s face pops into my head and I begin to think about all of the fun things we did when I was a bit shorter and a lot younger.

This didn’t strike me as strange until recently.  I’ll admit it.  I had a self-consumed moment of paranoia and wondered why a song titled She Drives Me Crazy reminds me of my relationship with my dad.  The song came out the year I was born, but I certainly can’t drive the man crazy, can I?  I know I run late sometimes but so does my mom and they’re still married, so it can’t be a dealbreaker.  Sure, he might back the car out of the garage and honk until I get there, threatening to leave every few seconds minutes but he probably just runs out there to ensure that he can turn on AM radio.  I also never played a “sport” in high school but even though he might not outright admit it (the two of us can be stubborn sometimes), I’m pretty sure my dad enjoyed going to dance competitions every weekend.  He also probably realized the health benefits of the shoulder workout he got from lugging the camcorder to each venue, even though the dances were the same every time.   I’ll admit, here and there I might’ve left a bit of a mess in the kitchen while baking and a small tiff might have occurred over the speed in which said mess was addressed.  But let’s be real.  It ended as soon as the timer went off and I delivered baked goods to the family room.

After convincing myself that I, along with my mom and sister, surely couldn’t be the “she” the song is referring to, I focused my energy on trying to figure out why this song makes me think of my dad each and every time I hear it.  And just like that, it hit me.  For about a year of my life, I was a morning person.  I would get up early with my dad on the weekends and we would watch junk TV until everyone else woke up.  Turns out there are only two things in this world that can get me out of bed early: my dad and Ernest movies.  World, take note.  During one of my channel surfing moments with my dad, we stumbled across a network that was showing the music video for this song.  (Remember when they used to show music videos on TV?)  He mentioned that he liked it and we watched the video.  And that was it.

Ever since one of those fateful early mornings, this song became my personal dad song.  To this day, anytime I tell him he comes to mind when I hear She Drives Me Crazy, his response is always the same: “I do like that song.”

 


Hello, world.

18Mar14

To those of you who are new to HauteThought.com, welcome.  To those of you who are long lost friends…well, hello. Remember me? I used to come here to write and review new music and/or post the occasional fashion tidbit.  I wouldn’t be surprised if you had a hard time remembering, as it’s been far too long since we’ve last spoken.

This is why I’ve chosen to title this post “Hello, world.”  It’s how WordPress welcomes you to the writing process when you first start a blog on their site.  They auto-post a brief blurb for you so you have an understanding of where the content goes.  I feel like since it’s been this long, I should have to restate my name to the blogging world once again.  So, hello, world.  It’s me!

I’m going to see what I can do to rekindle this friendship with at least one post every week.  I think it’ll be good for us to ease back into the swing of things, rather than dive right in.  I look forward to hanging out with you again and, if you’ll let me, I might write about things other than music here and there.  Don’t worry.  I haven’t forgotten where or why this friendship started in the first place.


How’s this for out of left field? Picture yourself 10 years ago (you know, a decade), tending to your typical ‘your age today minus 10′ kind of day.  At that point in time I was probably sitting in a minivan, getting dropped off at the movie theater by my parents to catch the latest teen movie with my BFFs.  We’d hang out in the arcade area afterwards and then be back in our respective houses by 10pm.  Sharp.  It would be glorious.  Now, imagine in your ‘day 10 years ago’ that “More to Life” by Stacie Orrico suddenly began playing over the loudspeakers (if you’re picturing your day as taking place outside, roll with it and pretend there are speakers).  The quality of your day slid into one of the following scenarios, where it instantly went from:

  • Terrible to amazing
  • Mediocre to amazing
  • Pretty good to amazing
  • Amazing to THE BEST DAY OF YOUR LIFE

If you were having a wonderful day, there was nothing missing from your life (except for maybe a driver’s license) simply because your jam was playing and you knew every word.  Having a rough day? Stacie gets you.  She’s totally speaking to your soul because you know what? There’s so much more to life.  She’s been through it all. I mean, haven’t you seen the video?  First, the debt collector comes to her house because she and her boyfriend can’t pay the bills and she has blue hair, then she’s running a race and has to walk and before you know it  she’s a waitress and wipes out at work.  No need to feel alone.  Stacie will sing through your pain.

The lyrics, video and her highlights are so classic early 2000s that it almost makes me wish my parents could drop me off at the theater again.  (I said almost.)  Now for a challenge.  I dare you to play this song and not let out at least a little smile.  That is, if you didn’t let one out thinking about what you were doing 10 years ago.


Redhead rule of life: Never fail to celebrate the success of a fellow redhead.
Celebrating: Ed Sheeran.
This fellow redhead gained my affections when he performed at the Grammys with none other than Sir Elton John himself (talk about a stage full of my talented brethren).  Ed Sheeran’s name came to mind the other day and I realized I hadn’t listened to his music for awhile.  I know, I’m embarrassing and ashamed of myself as not only a person, but also as a redhead.
“I See Fire” became a song I could listen to with ease.  Granted, any song by Ed Sheeran melts away any stresses I may have had but the simplicity of his voice, the guitar and the violin here are soothing.  It is also important to note that Sheeran plays all of these instruments in the video.  How refreshing!
The song was written for “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” set to hit theaters on December 13.  I apologize for my ignorance but I’m not well versed in the Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit craze, so I can’t speak to the meaning of this song for the purpose of the movie.  I’ve only seen part of one of the movies and have survived thus far.
I can, however, note that if I ever have to go into a fantasy-ridden battle, I will count on this successful ginger to serenade me the whole way through.

Oh, you wonderful Civil Wars.  You’ve up and done it again.  You’ve made an album that I look forward to listening to, even if I had it on repeat the day before.  I can’t say that I’m surprised.  The duo’s songwriting ability and lyrics in their debut album, Barton Hollow, hardly earned me the name “ye of little faith” when it came to their musical ability.  However, just last year The Civil Wars suffered a, well, civil war of their own.  Leave it to me to fall in love with a group just months before they cite “internal discord and irreconcilable differences of ambition.”

Timing aside, it was upsetting.  Their hiatus meant one thing and one thing only: a pause, perhaps even a stop altogether, in music from The Civil Wars.  Until…my hopes were lifted during ABC’s show Nashville, when a young duo sang a song by The Civil Wars.  I was watching the show the way I tend to watch most things (aside from Downton Abbey – that one has an odd power over my brain), iPad in hand, Facebook or Pinterest open, when I nearly leapt up from the couch.  And by that I mean I set my iPad down really fast and leaned about as far forward as I could without falling to the ground, left ear angled towards the TV.  Yes, it was that easy to distinguish a song by them, even when Joy Williams and John Paul White weren’t on the lead vocals.

That distinguishing factor is one reason why I love and adore this group.  I almost did heel clicks down the hallway as soon as I heard a new album would be out on August 6 and, after hearing the first song, I came close to doing them again.  The Civil Wars came out with The Civil Wars after “internal discord and irreconcilable differences of ambition” and the product was beautiful.  It’s times like these when I truly believe beauty is pain.  (I don’t believe it as much after wearing [too] high heels for 5 hours…because there is nothing beautiful about that shuffling limp.) The natural sound to both Willams’ and White’s voices I fell in love with on Barton Hollow is still there, despite what they had gone through.  It’s a small vibrato you can’t mess with or autotune.  One that is so full of a human element and emotion that I nearly give a round of applause to my headphones after hitting the play button.  Don’t think that this means their music has a frail element to it.  “The One That Got Away” (a favorite on the album) runs the gamut of a feeling of sadness to being legitimately angry.  At least this is how the duo sounds and you know what? I believe them.

As expected, The Civil Wars delivered a song just as beautiful as “Poison and Wine.”  The fourth song, “Dust to Dust,” is the song featured in advertisements for their album.  While I’m sure that discussion and decision making process was one that lasted for hours upon hours, I can see why it was chosen.  The harmonies made my hair stand on end and I stopped what I was doing until the song ended.  Not a bad quality for an advertisement.  “Eavesdrop” has a similar impact on the listener.  The story told by the lyrics, guitar line and merging of their voices is tragically beautiful and makes me feel for the storyteller.  Once again, thank you dearly for the human element and for pulling at my heartstrings.  How could it not with lyrics like this? “Oh, don’t say that it’s over…let’s let the stars watch, let them stare.  Let the wind eavesdrop, I don’t care.  For all that we’ve got don’t let go.  Just hold me.”

Not surprisingly, The Civil Wars debuted at number 1 on the Billboard chart with this album.  While I’m certainly not a proponent of war of any kind, perhaps the obstacles faced by The Civil Wars are what created it.  If that’s the case, I applaud them in fighting through and doing it gracefully.  The result was a number 1 album that won’t ever feel stale to me.  And I hope that maybe, just maybe, Joy Williams and John Paul White are actually doing heel clicks around town; they’re certainly warranted.

The One That Got Away:

Dust to Dust:

Eavesdrop:

I Had Me a Girl:



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