Powerful art echoes through time and connects us to those who have come before us. In Hamilton, Lin Manuel Miranda drew back the curtain and showed us the mythical figures of America’s birth were human beings, and that their experiences are not so different from our own. This performance at the White House drives that point home in a unique way. George Washington is stepping down, setting the precedent of two terms that presidents would follow for centuries to come (with one notable exception being FDR). And Obama, about to step down himself after his eight years in office, is in the audience. When the chorus sings “George Washington’s going home,” you can hear the tears in their voices, as through time they wish farewell to an influential and much beloved man with the words of farewell to the father of our country.
Australian singer Kimbra is probably best known in the United States as the woman in Gotye’s hit “Somebody That I Used To Know,” but her solo work is well worth your time. “Settle Down” explores the fantasy of a Ken and Barbie marriage that girls are taught by society, and contrasts it with real life and all the difficulties that the fairy tales don’t tell us. Enjoy!
This is famous song, but I hadn’t actually heard it until recently. If you’ve never heard it, you’re missing out! And if you have, then you probably want to hear it again. So here it is. Enjoy!
I was late to the bandwagon, but I’ve been mildly obsessed with the musical Hamilton for a couple months now, and “Wait For It” in particular has been on repeat for the past couple weeks. One of the things I love about Hamilton is how all the characters, these mythical men (and women) from the founding of our great nation, are human beings. There are no good guys or bad guys, just people trying to do the best they can in momentous, uncertain times. Alexander Hamilton is a brilliant man with major issues of arrogance and womanizing. And Aaron Burr, the “villain in your histories,” struggles with a need to live up to the expectations of his dead parents’ legacy and the resulting hesitance to stick his neck out for anything. Who can’t relate to that?
I love covers, particularly when the cover is in an entirely different musical genre as the original. This is a fabulous example of that. SHEL is an indie-folk group composed of four sisters, Sarah, Hannah, Eva and Liza. They take Enter Sandman, the quintessential metal song by the indomitable Metallica, and bring it into their world of acoustic guitars, mandolins and violins. The result is a beautiful (and beautifully creepy) lullaby you’ll want to put on repeat.
I love melancholy music. This song, an aching ode to being unable to move on after a relationship has wrung you dry, is hauntingly beautiful. Enjoy!
I adore Lady Gaga. And I think she’s at her best when she’s gaudy, luscious, over-the-top, balls-to-the-wall, no-holds-barred, straight up insane. And good god, does she go there with the music video for “John Wayne” off her latest album Joanne. It is glorious. Enjoy!
Occasionally a Michael Jackson song will come on the radio, and I’ll be reminded of how awesome he really was, how his songs were suffused with passion. It’s a testament to their power that they can be vessels for the passion of other artists as well. These ladies are killing it, paying homage to a great artist while making these songs their own. Enjoy!
When I hear this song, I’m instantly transported back to my senior year at Yale. On Valentine’s Day I hosted a Valentine’s Day Massacre, a party for bitter singles, in my huge top floor single room. There were anti-love quotes taped up to the walls, plenty of hard cider, and tons of people bouncing up and down to this and similarly romantically-cynical songs.
A little less than a month later I started dating the man who would become my husband.
When I was a senior in high school, I went on a trip to England and France with a group from school. It was an amazing experience in many ways, but one of my strongest memories is of sitting on the steps of Montmartre in Paris at dusk, listening to the buskers play Wonderwall. Being a teenager in the mid-to-late 1990s, the Oasis song was already firmly entrenched in my musical landscape, and hearing it covered by a street musician, in another country, surrounded by young people from all over the world, was a profound experience. Music is powerful, and it is multidimensional. It unites people and yet it also speaks to each one of us on a deeply personal level. Wonderwall may be one person’s heartbreak song and another’s love song. For me, it reminds me of Paris. Now, I don’t have a recording of that busker, but this acapella cover is a beautiful replacement. Maybe it will evoke memories of your own.