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gigi

Indulgent Music

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I love love LOVE Scott Walker's earlier stuff with the Walker Brothers. Whenever I'm feeling particularly morose, I stick on 'No Regrets' and sing along as loudly as I possibly can. (For reasons unknown, I find it more cathartic if it's also as badly as I can.)

I'm also a sucker for Prince's more OTT stuff: 'Nothing Compares 2U', 'How Come U Don't Call Me?' and 'The Beautiful Ones' from 'Purple Rain' hit a particular chord.

Needless to say the entirety of 'Grace' by Jeff Buckley is a Godsend after a break-up. I've also discovered the more MOR Starsailor this time around. I think I would have loathed their wailing at any other time, but following this last break 'Love is Here' has proven distressingly catchy. (I do kind of hope this one will be temporary though).

Any particular songs or albums you like to wallow in? The kind that aren't subtle, but that metaphorically whack you round the head to grab your attention with blatantly unapologetic self-indulgence?

Edited by gigi

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I think a lot of The Cure's catalog can qualify as this (e.g., pretty much of all Disintegration). Same goes for The Smiths. I find it almost impossible to listen to "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out" without getting blissfully and unapologetically morose.

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We had another thread on this a while back.

I've created a new genre in iTunes called "Mopesters." Current members include American Music Club, Archer Prewitt, Belle and Sebastian, The Clientele, David Sylvian, The Dears, Elliott Smith, Eric Matthews, Great Lake Swimmers, Jose Gonzalez, Lambchop, Loney Dear, Marianne Faithfull, Mark Eitzel, Nick Drake, Red House Painters, Sun Kil Moon, late-period Talk Talk, and Tindersticks.

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We had another thread on this a while back.

Ha ha! I did wonder about that but had no idea what search terms to use. Oh well. This board is making me feel like I'm still an academic - there are no new ideas, just recycled ones.

Having said that, I would also distinguish between what you call mopester music (shoegazers?), and these more melodramatic songs. I am a fan of most of the people you listed there, but if I listen to them whilst in a good mood they will lessen the good mood. These: I listen to when I need release, and they always succeed in cheering me up (albeit, on occasion, after a good cry).

To give you an example, I've just translated Monsieur Brel's lyrics to Ne Me Quitte Pas - you know, for light amusement. He ends it by saying that it would be better to be 'the shadow of your shadow, the shadow of your hand, the shadow of your DOG' than for him to live without her if she leaves. I believe he's also crying at the end of the song.

Now THAT'S emotion.

Also: The Walker Brothers' - "The sun ain't gonna shine anymore, the moon ain't gonna rise in the sky, the tears are always clouding your eyes

When you're without love"

Edit: I would distinguish Tindersticks from the others you listed as I think they fit somewhere in between the two categories, edging towards the melodramatic, methinks.

Edited by gigi

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Edit: I would distinguish Tindersticks from the others you listed as I think they fit somewhere in between the two categories, edging towards the melodramatic, methinks.

I'm not sure Nick Drake fits, either. Was he that melodramatic? It doesn't sound that way, to me. Not even with "Way to Blue". His music is so discreet and tempered.

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How about Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You"?

And actually so much country singers! Most of Iris DeMent's stuff. "Walking Home", "Childhood Memories"...

And George Jones. And Hank Williams.

Once an American told me Brel sounded like the French Dylan, and I told him that he was rather a sort of French Hank Williams.

Scott Walker loved Brel, but his covers were more like a crooner's version (and I love them a lot, but in a different way). Brel was more raw, if obviously melodramatic.

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When it comes to melodramatic, you have to start with Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart". In fact, you could make a double bill of that song and Stryper's "To Hell With the Devil", depending on what kind of mood you're in.

And then there's Air Supply, the kings of Operatic Romantic Histrionics. I believe that cranking up "Making Love Out of Nothing At All" on a high-quality stereo can shatter your fine china if you're not careful.

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Once an American told me Brel sounded like the French Dylan, and I told him that he was rather a sort of French Hank Williams.

And let's not forget he was actually Belgian. ::mf_clown::

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Not sure if this fits in within the parameters laid out by this thread, or exactly what those parameters are. Nevertheless: Lorraine Ellison, 'Stay with me'. If anyone can find a more over the top three minute recording than this, they deserve a prize. It's absurd, and brilliant. I think it's the slight slowing up before the final chorus that does it for me, followed by those ridiculous brass stabs.

I suppose Minnie Ripperton's 'Les Fleur' also qualifies as suitably indulgent melodrama.

edit: nearly forgot! Neil Diamond's 'Holly Holy'. The choir chanting "Sing! Sing! Sing!" gets me in a peculiar way. I have no idea what the song is about, if anything.

Edited by stu

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Not sure if this fits in within the parameters laid out by this thread, or exactly what those parameters are. Nevertheless: Lorraine Ellison, 'Stay with me'.

Sure it does!

Personally, I fall for that song as early as the first seconds. :)

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*takes notes*

Time to start doing some downloading methinks...

Edit: I would distinguish Tindersticks from the others you listed as I think they fit somewhere in between the two categories, edging towards the melodramatic, methinks.

I'm not sure Nick Drake fits, either. Was he that melodramatic? It doesn't sound that way, to me. Not even with "Way to Blue". His music is so discreet and tempered.

Actually - I was saying that everyone BUT Tindersticks would fit more comfortably in a 'mopester' category, than a melodramatic one (although I'm not particularly familiar with some of those listed). Nick Drake's a funny one in that the music is clearly not melodramatic (although often dramatic, albeit quietly so - eg. 'Horn'), but the lyrics are occasionally very melodramatic - I'm thinking 'Parasite'. I suppose one could argue this of Elliot Smith too - 'Pitseleh' is an incredible piece of lyricism. However there's a certain realism to these artists' works, which contain the melodrama even when the words are expressing extreme emotions. This is true of the music as much as the words - Smith's declaration that "I'm so angry I don't think it will ever pass" is accompanied by the clause "and that's bad news for you just because I never meant to hurt you". There's a strained gentility to the angry strumming in this song, too (one might even say that it's musical passive aggressiveness!). Similarly, Nick Drake's heartbreaking refrain "take a look you may see me on the ground/For I am the parasite of this town./And take a look you may see me in the dirt/ For I am the parasite who hangs from your skirt", whilst an incredibly evocative description comes in a song which opens with "lifting the mask from from a local clown/Feeling down like him". This instantly positions it as being from the perspective of someone who feels isolated and is dealing with pretty severe depression. For what it's worth - these two are my favourite songs by these artists.

The above lyrics seem to me to be based more in real experiences. They give you glimpses of actual behaviours, thoughts, and events; whereas Brel's et al are uber theatrical. The music reflects this. Discuss!

[Aside: a friend of mine, when told about the ending of "Ne Me Quitte Pas" replied "he must have been some kind of genius." I think that's the most fitting description I've heard so far.]

Edited by gigi

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The Pernice Brothers fit this category for me. Joe Pernice's songs are shamelessly steeped in pop theatricality. Pair that lyrics about morose and moribund human beings, and you get a uniquely winsome combination that works in just about every song. Their remake of "Grudge F***" off of their 2006 album is a good example.

Oh, and I looked up that Lorraine Ellison song. 8O It's like a sonic tear magnet.

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Thanks for your input on Nick Drake and Elliott Smith, Gigi.

I'd say Jacques Brel could be very well defined by the adjective "expressionnist" for his writing and theatrical performances. His words often exaggerate some points to make feel situations in the most intense way possible. When he tells/sings about his friend "Jef", or some "adults" from the perspective of his child eyes ("Ces gens-l

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I think I'm going to have to do a bit more digging on Brel. I only have a few of his records, and he's always been an intriguing character to me and this conversation is making him more so.

I'm wondering if this 'melodramatic expressionism' is a tendency particularly suited to music in French? Edith Piaf, anyone?

My knowledge of country is shamefully limited but there's certainly the strain of excess that I'm thinking about in the Dolly Parton & Hank Williams songs I know. It's all over Patsy Cline's work.

Stu - turns out I knew 'Stay with me Baby' but thanks for reminding me of it! I'd forgotten how utterly mental her voice is on this, she just manages to keep it on the right side of singing/screaming. It's a pretty top notch example of what I was thinking of. In this line of music - Etta James's "I'd Rather Go Blind" also springs to mind - "I don't wanna be free" ouch... There's a killer live version of this with Dr John that goes on for 5 minutes that's worth digging out. Also Gloria Lynne's "Speaking of Happiness", although it is more playful & big band-ish.

Edited by gigi

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Oh and I almost forgot - I think we can safely add the entirety of Tango, including the instrumental pieces.

A particular favourite in this category is D'Arienzo's "Pensalo Bien".

Edited by gigi

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I'm wondering if this 'melodramatic expressionism' is a tendency particularly suited to music in French? Edith Piaf, anyone?

Maybe. We have several ones of that kind. Edith Piaf of course

and L

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Thinking a bit more about the title of this thread, I think these French singers weren't "indulging" in melodrama. To me, what they did was real, almost the opposite of indulgent music.

The interesting debate of this thread, to my view, is first to define what's indulgent or not (if that's possible), and secondly, if what we consider indulgent may be good nonetheless (I personally think so).

To me, something "indulgent" must be kinda "kitsch". There's a notion of artifice. And with the years, I learned to like artifice and ingulgent things in music, something I was unable to do years ago, when I was younger.

Years ago, I was laughing at Sylvie Vartan. Today I'm fond of her lightness.

edit: but when I say years ago, I don't go til my childhood, 'cause when I was a child, I was caught by anything that was light and happy. I lost that "innocence" when I grew up. And today I have often the feeling to find my childhood - or innocence - again when I get into lightness. It may have slowly started when I got into the Beatles music 20 years ago. It's as if I was learning to be happier with time, til the pure light of my childhood.

I would say all that better in French. Anyway this is absolutely true!

Edited by Hugues

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Thinking a bit more about the title of this thread, I think these French singers weren't "indulging" in melodrama. To me, what they did was real, almost the opposite of indulgent music.

The indulgence in the title refers more to the listening experience than the writing side of it. Brel, in particular, seems to be playing with this and even commenting on the nature of melodrama. He reputedly said of 'Ne Me Quitte Pas' that it wasn't a love song but rather a song about the cowardice of men (*ahem* wikipedia, unverified ::blushing:: ).

So yeah, I'd agree, that these songs can change depending on how you listen to them. Which is probably why there's a sense of joy & catharsis even when presented with the most bleak and despairing of lyrics.

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The Shangri-las.

I love this you tube rendition of 'Past Present & Future'. How many times did I do the same in front of the mirror as a teenager?!

Also, I remember having an argument with someone years back about the merits of PJ Harvey. He loathed her for her self-indulgence, and Tracy Emin-esque displays. It's exactly why I love her. (Interestingly, he contrasted her with Bjork who he saw as more generous with her creativity and, ultimately, optimistic.)

Edited by gigi

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The Shangri-las.

I love this you tube rendition of 'Past Present & Future'. How many times did I do the same in front of the mirror as a teenager?

Yes! I love the Shangri-Las. Am a big fan actually. Also "I Can Never Go Home Anymore" is over the top, but delightful and unmistakable.

We have to salute Shadow Morton, for sure. This producer is too often neglected among the greats.

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Any particular songs or albums you like to wallow in? The kind that aren't subtle, but that metaphorically whack you round the head to grab your attention with blatantly unapologetic self-indulgence?

I always loved "How's It Going to Be" by Third Eye Blind. I'm not even a fan of them otherwise but I love that song. The zither sounding guitars, the slow build up, and I can't help but belt out the climax when it comes up.

"I wanna get myself back in again

The soft dive of oblivion

I wanna taste the salt of your skin

The soft dive of oblivion

Oblivion"

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I'm a huge fan of "The Sun Always Shines on TV" by a-ha. It's got a dramatic grand piano opening and then adds a synth orchestra, guitar power chords, a choir, and Morten Harket's unbelievably melodramatic voice. Plus the lyrics: "I looked inside myself and found nothing there to ease the pressure off my ever-worrying mind..." Totally awesome.

Actually, despite being known as pretty-boy one-hit wonders, a-ha actually has some really good music. Their 2005 album "Analogue" was decent, especially the title track, and their 2001 album "Minor Earth, Major Sky" would probably classify as indulgent. In a good way.

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I'm a huge fan of "The Sun Always Shines on TV" by a-ha.

Oh great call! Absolutely. In fact, I'm going to download it now. I love this song, although I don't know if it's because of the overtones of childhood nostalgia associated with it, but I suspect it's actually because it's just a darn good pop tune.

Is it just me or is synthesised music always melodramatic? Maybe it's just that 80's shameless grandioseness about it that makes me think so.

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Heh, I just watched the video for "The Sun Always Shines On TV" today at work -- don't ask me why -- and I think "shameless grandioseness" is a perfect way to describe it. Those orchestral synth hits get me every time.

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