Sunday, November 06, 2011


I listened to Michael Buble's "Christmas" album, which came out very recently. Of course reminding us that the most commercial and superficial season is just creeping around the corner waiting to frighten us. Yes folks, I'm not talking about Halloween. Prepare for the yuletide because you'll be scared to death by how much you are actually going to spend courtesy of relentless marketing and Christmas-whoring, sometimes unconsciously. But I'm not going to talk about Christmas. Not just yet. But I like Christmas songs though. Though they are haphazardly rehashed to death by numerous artists, the glow of Christmas songs bring a cheer to me. The songs are what I really like about Christmas. Of course, the gifts too. But the joy in hearing a familiar tune, I'll Be Home for Christmas, for instance, covered to death by a lot of singers, is genuine. At least for me. I mean, others get irritated hearing Christmas songs because they are reminded of the horrors of the season, as I mentioned. This is beginning to be a Christmas post and I said I'm not going to have an early post about it so what I really wanted to talk about is Michael Buble. Because when I played the album, I remembered this companion we have on one of my work-related trips who commented that she does not really like Michael because he cannot or does not give justice to the songs he covers. I was going to argue with her but I was so looking forward to the prospect of an unforgettable adventure minutes away that I let it pass. What I wanted to tell her though was that when Michael covers the songs he covers, his purpose is not to give justice -- of course you want to do that to Sinatra -- but it's more of like paying tribute. After all, you cannot really give justice to an original. When you sing an original, you do not mean to give it justice by being equal to it. There's no such thing as that. You just have to make the arrangement cool, make it your own and not disparage the original in the process. Of course, it takes one's musical acuity to say that, otherwise we'll be okay-ing to just about every revival. But surely Michael's versions are a cut above the rest. Even if they are not to some, I hold it dearly because I have always this thing, this love affair for the past. Grew up with Abba songs, The Beatles, a handful of not-so-known pop tunes like The Monkee's She's Not There and Lesley Gore's It's my Party, Johnny Mathis, The Platters, and handful of others and although I find Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdink songs irritating especially when sung by drunken masters of the videoke, I still sing along with Kiss or It's Not Unusual (but please no Green Green Grass of Home or That Wonderful Sound). What I'm really saying is that when Michael (I keep on referring to him first-name as if I really know him that well huh) is that link between the past and present. In Woody Allen's recent film Midnight in Paris, there's this supposed syndrome where one constantly fantasizes of living in the past. I have yet to google if it really is something like that syndrome (forgot the term, d'or something) but when I hear Michael singing For Once in My Life or Summer Wind or You Don't Know Me, it's like that moment when the character of Owen Wilson is being fetched by the Parisian carriage to meet, unknowingly, Hemingway, Fitzgerald or Dali in the midnight air of 1930s Paris, amid smokes and intoxicating jazz music, somewhere where time is not hurried but savored, where life undulates in meaningful reveries and longings, ruminations of an unpredictable future.

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Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family, Choose a f—king big television. Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players, and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol and dental insurance. Choose fixed-interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose a three piece suit on hire purchased in a range of f—king fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the f—k you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing f—king junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, f—ked-up brats you have spawned to replace yourself. Choose a future. Choose life . . . But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life. I chose somethin’ else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroin?

Renton, Trainspotting