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ABF Friday:  Mordant Celebration edition!

One year ago today I was having one of the better times of my life.  I was in northern California, attending the wedding ceremony of my old friend Larry Gallagher, whom I’d met in college and with whom I’d played some fine music back in the day, and Catherine Shaddix, whom he’d met back in the more recent (mid-90s) day at the Mount Baldy Zen Center.  It was a thoroughly Buddhist ceremony—nothing wasted, everything fun, very moving vows, and a hilarious discussion afterwards about whether the Vipassana ideal of lovingkindness wasn’t too difficult for us mere humans to achieve (and, relatedly, whether it was a bad idea to have a belief system in which one was constantly weighed in one’s own scales and found wanting, what with all those “hindrances” in the way) and whether Buddhists might not be better off with a more realistic outlook that involved 80 percent lovingkindness and 20 percent revenge.

One of the highlights of the weekend for me was playing music again with Larry and other-former-bandmate Oren Bloedow and about seven or eight terrific musicians (“terrific” here meaning “much much better at playing music than I am”).  I had neglected to bring my hi-hat cymbals with me to San Francisco, and I was frantically writing this review essay on the trip and meeting the delightful Chris Clarke along the way, so part of the weekend involved a series of Madcap Adventures that I did not fail to detail on this blog last year.  (Dang, I just reread that post and got all wistful.) I hadn’t played music in public for about six years, and I haven’t played since.  I don’t know why.

And, as I wrote in that post, our set ended on a most fun and kinda-ironic (and therefore even more fun) note:

My part of the evening was capped off when word got around the crowd that no one in the United States could be properly married until the band played “Celebration,” whereupon we all got back up on stage and played a seven-minute jam that included an extended solo so remarkable that half the musicians spun around and said, WTF? as one of the guitarists took the tune to places it had never been.  As we ended sharply on “everyone around the world, come on”—improbably, since we had never played the song before—Kid B brought the celebration to a close, declaring, “by the power invested in me by Kool and the Gang, I now pronounce you husband and wife.”

Well, what I didn’t tell you last year was that the next morning, as the entire wedding party of thirty-or-forty-or-so people gathered for casual breakfast and coffee and chatter in the crisp California sunshine, Larry and I and a small group of people (including Joey Cheezhee of Joey Cheezhee and the Velveeta Underground, about whom I’d heard so much over the years but had never met) had a soul-searching discussion that will serve, one year later, as the basis for today’s Arbitrary But Fun Friday.

It started like this.  Rob Riddell, one of those fine musicians (and the author of the “about Larry” page of Larry’s website), was going to be married three weeks hence, and he’d gotten such a kick out of the impromptu “Celebration” celebration that he was reportedly thinking of playing the song at his wedding.  Quite apart from the question of whether this constituted an illegitimate form of copying-off, there was the question—and I don’t remember who first brought it up—of whether it was appropriate to play “Celebration” only three weeks after playing “Celebration,” because, after all, as the first verse clearly states,

There’s a party goin’ on right here
A celebration to last throughout the years

And who would want to violate the letter and the spirit of this powerful song?

On the other hand, no one in the United States can be properly married until the band plays “Celebration.” So we were faced with something of a dilemma.

My contribution to the discussion went like this: the question about “Celebration” unfortunately opens out onto the entire genre of packaged-party songs, such as Madonna’s “Holiday” and Chic’s “Good Times.” Because the entire premise of these songs is that our lives are, in fact, full of stress and strife, and we’re just going to take this one day (and night) and have ourselves a goddamn good time if it kills us.  So you obviously can’t play them three weeks apart.  You have to wait until you’ve accumulated enough agony, enough sorrow and trouble, and then you can play one of them again.

Madonna makes this quite clear:

It’s time for the good times
Forget about the bad times, oh yeah
One day to come together
To release the pressure
We need a holiday

“Put your troubles down/ It’s time to celebrate,” she sings, and though there’s an obligatory note of optimism—“Let love shine/ And we will find/ A way to come together/ And make things better,” we know this is so much horseshit, because the song opened by telling us we were allowing ourselves “just one day out of life” (my emphasis).  The note of optimism fools no one.  The song just keeps on mentioning pressure and troubles and bad times.  And that’s because when tomorrow comes, we return to the salt mines, where (if God is merciful) we will soon expire.

“Good Times” puts more of an emphasis on “good” times, as you might imagine, but despite the incessantly repeated (and therefore ultimately unconvincing) claim that “these are the good times,” the song just can’t help alluding to the conditions that make it necessary:

Must put an end
To this stress and strife
I think I want to live the sporting life

(This, folks, is why Raymond Williams was right to say that “we have to break from the common practice of isolating the object and then discovering its components.  On the contrary we have to discover the nature of a practice and then its conditions.”)

And then there is the truly ominous second stanza, which ends with that idyllic picture of “Clams on the half-shell/ And roller skates, roller skates,” but predicates this vision on what can only be called a sense of urgency and despair:

A rumor has it that it’s getting late
Time marches on, just can’t wait
The clock keeps turning, why hesitate
You silly fool, you can’t change your fate

Scholars of packaged-party songs have tried to gloss this stanza by way of its echo of “Time’s winged chariot” (“But at my back I always hear/ Time’s winged chariot hurrying near;/ And yonder all before us lie/ Deserts of vast eternity,” from Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress”), thereby claiming “Good Times” for the carpe diem tradition.  (The opening line, “a rumor has it,” is pretty clearly a nod to that tradition.) But still, my point remains.  Andrew Marvell certainly couldn’t utter these words to his coy mistress every three weeks, and you can’t play any of these songs that frequently, either.

Few artists have demystified the “party song” tradition so thoroughly as Mary J. Blige, of course, whose delightful “Family Affair” and “Dance for Me” are bracingly insistent on their status as tenuous (though thumpin’) respites from “drama” and “situations” and “BS.” “Dance for Me” admits, “And I know you been stressed/ That’s how we got you messed up,” and “Family Affair” goes so far as to suggest that the first injunction to “leave your situations at the door” was insufficient, and requires a second, more emphatic “I told you leave your situations at the door” (emphasis added, but already implied, I think).

In fact, as our post-wedding discussion progressed, our little group began to wonder if there were any get-up-and-dance songs that weren’t ultimately self-consuming artifacts.  For does not the seemingly straightforward exhortation to get on the good foot imply a bad foot, and that you may be on it as we speak?  And who wants to be reminded of that bad foot in a song about the good foot?  “Ain’t nothing goin’ on but the rent/ A whole lotta bills and my money’s spent/ And that’s on my bad foot.” See?  Told you.

I’ll develop this theme in another post, when I explain why Sam Cooke’s “We’re Havin’ a Party” actually suggests (not in its lyrics but in Cooke’s delivery) that the comforts of this world, even unto the Cokes in the icebox and the popcorn on the table, are paltry and evanescent, and that our true condition consists of misery and grief and mourning.

But for now, here’s our ABF question: is it possible, knowing what we now know, to play or dance to any of these songs unironically?  And precisely how long should we wait before playing or dancing to them again?

Happy anniversary, Larry and Catherine, and thanks again for a lovely party that will last throughout the years.

Side notes: Check out Larry’s new CD, just released the other day or so!  As the website says, “‘Can I Go Now?’ continues in the long tradition of Larry Gallagher albums that began with his other CD three years ago.” I especially recommend “I’m Deep (Will You Sleep with Me),” and I can’t resist mentioning that I couldn’t resist quoting, in Liberal Arts, Larry’s wry take on the guilty-white-liberal phenomenon in “I’m Sorry For What My People Did to Your People,” namely, the stanza that goes,

I’m sorry for what my people did to your people
It was a nasty job
Please note the change of attitude
On the bumper of my Saab.

The first CD is well worth your while, too, ranging from the lovely “Disappointment Slough” to the laugh-til-you-cry “Wimpy White Guys with Guitars.” Just don’t tell Larry I sent you.  Make him guess.

And Jamie turns 15 tomorrow!  We’re taking him to this gig tonight.  And let’s hope he likes his new iPod!  Celebrate good times, come on!

Posted by on 09/15 at 10:50 AM
  1. "But for now, here’s our ABF question: is it possible, knowing what we now know, to play or dance to any of these songs unironically?  And precisely how long should we wait before playing or dancing to them again?”

    Hence the enduring importance of frontal lobe disregulation.  Which is to say, the answers are “you bet!” and “no time at all!” if you’re a pharmacologically enthusiastic club kid or committed buddhist.

    As for the rest of you people, I really couldn’t say.

    For the CAPTCHA tea-leavers:  “summer,” endlessness not specified.

    Posted by Sifu Tweety  on  09/15  at  12:26 PM
  2. Those of us who are dancing-impaired have no choice but to dance with irony. I have perfected the facial expression which tells others on the dance floor, “Yes, I know, I move like a pregnant yak. But I’m playing it up in a postmodern way! Doesn’t that make it fun?”

    Therefore, I can never dance in the true spirit of these party songs, leaving all troubles behind. Instead, I must maintain my ironic awareness, preparing my “Yes, I just stepped on my own foot!” smile.

    Even Kool and his Gang cannot save me.

    Posted by ms lynch  on  09/15  at  12:42 PM
  3. The songs imply a backdrop of grief, from which they proceed to relieve us.  Inasmuch as they are performed unironically, they actually demand unironic partying.

    Posted by  on  09/15  at  12:42 PM
  4. Summer, eh?  Maybe this is a good time to remind everyone that we’re less than one week away from the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, and of course everyone knows what comes after that.  I bet those swallows are gathering right now.

    Posted by  on  09/15  at  12:42 PM
  5. But still, my point remains.  Andrew Marvell certainly couldn’t utter these words to his coy mistress every three weeks, and you can’t play any of these songs that frequently, either.

    What do you want to bet he uttered them to a different coy mistress every three weeks, if not oftener? “Oh, Master Marvell, thou sayest that to all the maids!”

    Posted by  on  09/15  at  12:54 PM
  6. I don’t know about playing them, but you have to dance them unironically. I don’t think you can dance ironically, since to be ironic you need an audience and when you dance you dance alone. Well, -maybe- with a partner (and the bass player) but surely not as an audience.

    As for how often you can do it, it really depends on how much angst you have been able to generate in the intervening period. That’s why teens dance so much more and better than older folks.

    Posted by  on  09/15  at  01:00 PM
  7. Happy birthday to Jamie, and hopefully the only animal urinating on stage will be Jack Hanna himself.

    My current selection: “The Freaks Come Out at Night” by Whodini. Anything with 1+ minute of computer voice = party song. See also: Planet Rock.

    Posted by norbizness  on  09/15  at  01:02 PM
  8. As Richard and Linda Thompson would have it, before they would break-up during a show when she would hit him in the head with a bottle (tell me this isn’t an apocryphal story) and he’d do the encore alone with blood streaming:

    “A couple of drunken nights rolling on the floor
    Is just the kind of mess I’m looking for.
    I’m gonna dream ‘till Monday comes in sight
    I want to see the bright lights tonight”

    I mean, no matter how good the song is, it stops eventually. So you dance with tears in your eyes. Or your beer--it only makes the moment more delicious.

    Posted by George  on  09/15  at  01:02 PM
  9. My wife and I celebrated our 20 year anniversary this summer and now I find out we aren’t really married becaue “Celebration” was not played at our wedding.  Damn.

    So, if I follow the proposed logic here, the proper songs at a wedding should be sad, soul-wretching songs of anguish and despair?  Because the implication we should draw from such songs is that these sad things are only the exceptions to lives of joy and bliss?  Or am I missing something ironic here?

    Janis’s “Me and Bobby McGee” or Randy Newman’s “God’s Song” or Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” have now become the perfect wedding songs. Oh, I know, Peter Gabriel’s “Wallflower!” Followed immediately by the toasts!

    Suddenly my friend Frank, who wanted to play “Highway to Hell” at his wedding seems a lot more savvy than I gave him credit for.

    Posted by  on  09/15  at  01:31 PM
  10. In fact, as our post-wedding discussion progressed, our little group began to wonder if there were any get-up-and-dance songs that weren’t ultimately self-consuming artifacts.  For does not the seemingly straightforward exhortation to get on the good foot imply a bad foot, and that you may be on it as we speak?  And who wants to be reminded of that bad foot in a song about the good foot?  “Ain’t nothing goin’ on but the rent/ A whole lotta bills and my money’s spent/ And that’s on my bad foot.” See?  Told you.

    The solution here is ably expressed by Shakira in Ready For The Good Times, probably the best disco song written in the 21st century, in which the singer not only admits to the bad times with which the hoped for good times are to be contrasted, but in fact describes those bad times, breaking them down into two taxa: the bad times she has had and the bad times she wishes to avoid in the future.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  09/15  at  01:32 PM
  11. Oakland A’s fans know how often “Celebration” should be played: every time the A’s win a home game.

    “Good Times” is a sad song.  When Chic did it, times were not good.

    “The Freaks Come Out at Night” conveys a sense of longing.  If there’s fun, someone else is having it:
    And I always had to be home by ten
    Right before the fun was about to begin

    “Planet Rock” for me is more a manifesto than a party song.  This is who we are.  This is what we do.

    With Funkadelic’s “Get Off Your Ass and Jam,” it’s not about having fun.  It’s just something you have to do.

    In Sly and the Family Stone’s self-referential “Dance to the Music,” it’s the music that’s fun.  Other things might stink.

    Posted by J—  on  09/15  at  01:44 PM
  12. that the comforts of this world, even unto the Cokes in the icebox and the popcorn on the table, are paltry and evanescent, and that our true condition consists of misery and grief and mourning.

    You got it ass-backwards, dude!

    Posted by  on  09/15  at  01:50 PM
  13. Those songs should probably always be played ironically, though not necessarily danced so. The answer to the second question depends on how you’re measuring time. If you’re measuring it with a grief/stress/misery index in George W. Bush’s America, then probably the time it takes to read a wingnut blog would be enough of a break. Certainly no longer than one of Fox News’s signature shows.

    Posted by  on  09/15  at  01:52 PM
  14. You got it ass-backwards, dude!

    Yeah, well, Gene, you would say that.

    Posted by Michael  on  09/15  at  02:02 PM
  15. Hey, Jamie, Happy Birthday.When I’ve seen your picture here or read about your athletic achievements and all your travelling, I always thought you were over 18 already. Seriously.I am very jealous of the fact that you travel around so much with your Old Dad. I am stuck here in a little country town near Cape Town, South Africa. Have you ever visited Africa, Jamie? I forget. Let me know if you’re coming, you (and the Old Dad) can stay at my place.
    Have a great birthday and a great year of being 15.

    Posted by  on  09/15  at  02:09 PM
  16. I think the key is in the line “A celebration to last throughout the years.” As I read this, the celebration itself is lasting, not just the memories or impressions thereof.  It’s not just a one-night party that can’t be repeated until an appropriately respectful interval has passed; rather, it’s the spirit of an ongoing, even perpetual, celebration that irrupts into our lives on special occasions.  On those moments when we gather to ritually honor the sacraments of marriage and love and sex, the spirit appears and the song should be played.  No time limit necessary.

    Posted by Sean Carroll  on  09/15  at  02:15 PM
  17. It is entirely possible that in fact the song never stops playing, somewhere in the world.  Thus, the celebration does indeed last throughout the years, it just shifts locations.  Thus, you might want to play it more often than every three weeks, just to be sure that the chain is never broken…

    Posted by  on  09/15  at  02:33 PM
  18. If a song is abandoning the hard times for a moment of frivolity, and you’re doing the same: there’s nothing ironic about it. The song may be ironic, but your actions aren’t.

    If you’re miming frivolity, never able to break away from the strange notion that you shouldn’t really be doing this, you need to invest in something psychotropic; loosen up a bit; or perhaps pay another visit to the bar.

    So, the answer is: yes, it is possible to “play or dance to any of these songs unironically” if you can forget, in that moment, what you now know.

    When I dance to the music, there’s nothing ironic about it. I am, indeed, doing little else but dancing to the music - as is expected.

    Posted by Central Content Publisher  on  09/15  at  02:38 PM
  19. ...no one in the United States could be properly married until the band played “Celebration”...

    “Celebration” it seems would have to be typically non-ironic, what with its performance being the act constituting the new marriage and all.  It had never before occurred to me that Kylie Minogue has been officiating giant Unification Church-style mass weddings.  It’s kinda hot.  This according to “How to Do Things with Kool & the Gang.”

    captcha today, as in the diem to carpe, so, um, let’s party!

    Posted by  on  09/15  at  02:45 PM
  20. Sean and Brian have it: the song doesn’t itself launch the celebration, it merely acknowledges the celebration that is always-already unfolding; bands that play the song merely join a chorus of bands in a song that never ends; you’re not playing it again three weeks later, you’re just dipping your foot back into a stream that never went anywhere itself. —I think it has something to do with higher-dimensional mathematics; the chord progression resonates with the perpetual “Celebration” frequency tucked somewhere in a wrinkle of the Calabi-Yau manifold or something.

    But I’m not a string-theory partisan, so don’t quote me or nothin’.

    Posted by Kip Manley  on  09/15  at  02:45 PM
  21. Happy birthday to Jamie from another fan on the West Coast!

    Perhaps I’m too immersed in the 17th-century controversies about festival time, but of late when I’ve heard Madonna’s “Celebrate,” which I agree sounds like a pop music reading of Bakhtin, I’ve wondered, “What would Milton say?”

    Posted by  on  09/15  at  02:57 PM
  22. Kip less string than streamer theory.

    Posted by Sifu Tweety  on  09/15  at  03:10 PM
  23. Really, Sifu? I thought there was something to do with the silly subset.

    Posted by Kip Manley  on  09/15  at  03:13 PM
  24. "It is entirely possible that in fact the song never stops playing, somewhere in the world.”

    If I were in a location where Celebration never stopped playing, I would have no choice but to rip out and eat my own ear-drums.

    Also, I believe that one can decrease the required waiting period between uses of Celebration by rendering it as a klezmer song.

    Posted by Dr. Free-Ride  on  09/15  at  03:13 PM
  25. If you are a truly enlightened Buddhist (and I’m not, though I am working on it) there isn’t any difference between good times and bad times.  Everything is part of everything else. 

    So Buddhists are always ironic.  Wait, can that be right?

    Posted by  on  09/15  at  03:22 PM
  26. I think the key is in the line “A celebration to last throughout the years.” As I read this, the celebration itself is lasting, not just the memories or impressions thereof.

    Dang!  Where were you last year, Sean?  You could have saved Larry and Rob a lot of trouble.  Did I mention that the discussion ended in a fistfight?  A Buddhist fistfight, sure, but still.

    So what do you think of Kip’s suggestion?

    #

    Sean and Brian have it: the song doesn’t itself launch the celebration, it merely acknowledges the celebration that is always-already unfolding; bands that play the song merely join a chorus of bands in a song that never ends; you’re not playing it again three weeks later, you’re just dipping your foot back into a stream that never went anywhere itself. —I think it has something to do with higher-dimensional mathematics; the chord progression resonates with the perpetual “Celebration” frequency tucked somewhere in a wrinkle of the Calabi-Yau manifold or something.

    My sense is that Kip might be onto something.  Because (as Sean already knows, and I’ll confess to the rest of you) I never did quite understand where the eleventh dimension in string theory comes from.  The standard four I get, and the six folded up in the Calabi-Yau space are no problem, but that eleventh one is just mind-bending.  Until now!  I should go back and read Edward Witten’s breakthrough paper, “Celebrate Good Times:  The Eleventh Dimension is the Dimension of Fun.”

    Posted by Michael  on  09/15  at  03:38 PM
  27. Git up offa that thang… and dance ‘til you feel bettah.
    Git up offa that thang… Try an’ release that preshah.

    Nope, the dancing to that one just can’t be ironic, and I’d think it would strain a musician’s irony muscles to the breaking point to play it that way.  Even if the band pulled it off, it would just mess up one of the most insistent get-out-on-the-floor numbers ever.

    However, GUOTT does fit into the slot of no-partying-without-the-backdrop of stress and bad times. Dang!  I wanted to be able to come up with more support for the appealing eternal-celebration approach.

    Posted by Nell  on  09/15  at  03:40 PM
  28. According to the “ekpyrotic model,” our universe is a three-brane separated from a parallel “good times” brane by the eleventh dimension.  Occasionally the two branes will collide, resulting in an outbreak of celebration.

    http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20010922/bob9.asp

    Personally, however, I prefer the “spontaneous inflation” theory, according to which good times arise probabilistically from quantum fluctuations in a relatively somber background.

    http://preposterousuniverse.blogspot.com/2004/10/arrow-of-time.html

    Admittedly, the data at this point don’t help us distinguish between the competing models, so further experimentation is called for.

    Posted by Sean Carroll  on  09/15  at  03:54 PM
  29. Whichever model one espouses, the question then becomes one of causality: does playing “Celebration” cause a branal collision, or an irruption from the quantum foam? Or does the collision/irruption cause the musicians to suddenly drop whatever else it was they were doing and start playing along?

    Or is it the case that not every instance of playing the song “Celebration” is necessarily linked to a celebration event?

    Posted by Kip Manley  on  09/15  at  04:00 PM
  30. Michael asks, “And precisely how long should we wait before playing or dancing to them again?” I submit this question has special relevance with respect to Prince’s song 1999:

    I was dreamin’ when I wrote this
    Forgive me if it goes astray

    But when I woke up this mornin’
    Coulda sworn it was judgment day

    The sky was all purple
    There were people runnin’ everywhere

    Tryin’ 2 run from the destruction
    U know I didn’t even care

    ‘Cuz they say two thousand zero zero party over
    Oops out of time
    So tonight I’m gonna party like it’s 1999

    I was dreamin’ when I wrote this
    So sue me if I go 2 fast

    But life is just a party
    And parties weren’t meant 2 last

    War is all around us
    My mind says prepare 2 fight

    So if I gotta die
    I’m gonna listen 2 my body tonight

    Yeah, they say two thousand zero zero party over
    Oops out of time
    So tonight I’m gonna party like it’s 1999
    Yeah

    Lemme tell ya somethin’
    If U didn’t come 2 party
    Don’t bother knockin’ on my door
    I got a lion in my pocket
    And baby he’s ready 2 roar

    Yeah, everybody’s got a bomb
    We could all die any day
    But before I’ll let that happen
    I’ll dance my life away

    Posted by  on  09/15  at  04:31 PM
  31. A bunch of literature people ought to recognize what Kip has really gotten at: instances of Celebration are those liminal moments when Faerie and the ordinary world intersect. Our journey into the Land of Celebration gives us, as Tolkien wrote, Escape from our ordinary hard times, Recovery of good feelings, and Consolation for Monday mornings to come. OCSs (Obligatory Celebration Songs) give us the Mirror of Fun towards Nature, the Mirror of Ecstatic Shouting towards the Soopa-Natch’ral, and the Mirror of Scorn and Pity towards Man. Perhaps they all contain the seed of tragedy and mortality, all the more pitiful because of the temporary escape they seem to offer us, but when we return from Celebration to Hard Times, we are renewed spiritually.

    So that shadow inside all these songs—it’s okay.

    Nell, I thought of that one right away. And:

    Two thousand zero zero party over out of time

    Given what we’ve experienced in the last six years, it’s hard not to acknowledge Prince (for that was his name) as a prophet.

    I was thinking that “Shout” might lack the shadow of tragedy, but then it’s got:

    You wanna let me go/ . . . / And if you leave me, I don’t want nobody else, hey, hey

    Which seems to promise a Havisham-like lifetime of bitter celibacy.

    Posted by  on  09/15  at  04:36 PM
  32. That wasn’t there when I started writing. But doesn’t it prove my point?

    Posted by  on  09/15  at  04:42 PM
  33. One might in the fourth person and the eleventh dimension institute a productive comparison with Christmas songs. Christmas songs are at least as insistent on their own momentariness:

    Have yourself a merry little Christmas now [but not tomorrow];

    A packful of toys means a sackful of joys / For millions of girls and for millions of boys / When Christmas Day is here / The most [read: only] wonderful day of the year!

    What a bright time, it’s the right time [finally] / To rock the night away / Jingle bell time is a swell time / To go gliding in a one-horse sleigh [at last].

    Interestingly, there is a potent concurrent counter-narrative that imagines a perpetual Christmas, a floating Christmas, a non- or trans-dimensional Christmas. Which narrative is dominant, which emerging, and which that third thing that I forget, I do not know.

    P.S. Chris Clarke, shows what you know. It was a sonnet. So there.

    Posted by  on  09/15  at  04:44 PM
  34. season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, and of course everyone knows what comes after that

    Sure we do, and it ain’t nothing but a house party, which only provides the minor angst of “I know it’s cold outside.” - i.e. quit waiting for the conservative repudiation of Dinesh D’Souza and get in here and boogie.

    you’re just dipping your foot back into a stream that never went anywhere itself
    “You cannot dance twice to the same song, so party like it’s 501 BC” - Heraclitus

    Amanda - In my browser (and I presume everyone’s or most everyone’s) your links only take you to Google home. I tinyurled them, so they should work correctly right here.

    Oh, and Heraclitus wanted me add: Gene Simmons “rocks”, we’ll all find that out soon enough, and we’ll be sorry we laughed.

    Posted by  on  09/15  at  06:11 PM
  35. Boy am I embarrassed. All these years I’ve been taking song lyrics figuratively.

    Posted by David J Swift  on  09/15  at  06:15 PM
  36. Do not forget Leonard Cohen’s magnificent “Closing Time”, which may or may not be about the Apocalypse.

    I lift my glass to the Awful Truth
    Which you can’t reveal to the Ears of Youth
    Except to say it isn’t worth a dime…

    Many happy returns to Jamie.

    Posted by jonquil  on  09/15  at  06:20 PM
  37. Boy am I embarrassed. All these years I’ve been taking song lyrics figuratively.

    You know, it’s people like you who have the temerity to boogie oogie oogie only until they need to take a brief rest before they can boogie some more.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  09/15  at  06:29 PM
  38. narf.  coming from a former club kid, the one i’ve always run up against is the ethical dilemma posed by dancing to alan braxe’s “music sounds better with you” all by myself.

    Posted by Arkadin  on  09/15  at  07:12 PM
  39. Happy birthday to Jamie, and hopefully the only animal urinating on stage will be Jack Hanna himself.
    I don’t know what he does with the animals, but her sure has a lovely adventurous daughter!

    Now i don’t particularly like these songs but this statement: is it possible, knowing what we now know, to play or dance to any of these songs unironically? seems to make Frank Zappa seem banal and pedestrian.  Decades of performances, night after night, with not one moment of “unirony” now reduced to a question of possibility??? (i can’t believe the captcha word is “remember")

    Perhaps the best wedding song to play might be ”Knockin on Heaven’s Door?” Certainly almost nothing by Jackson Browne would be appropriate.  As “J” mentioned Sly and Family Stone up in #11, i would think a rollicking version of Let Me Take You Higher could be played over and over and over again.  Afterall, get high enough you never remember the crash and burn.

    Posted by  on  09/15  at  07:58 PM
  40. Forget about the bad times
    Remember all the good times
    [url="http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/2006/09/06/international/i173711D29.DTL&type=bondage"]Hold your head up high
    And breakaway![/url]

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  09/15  at  08:35 PM
  41. I hate when that happens.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  09/15  at  08:36 PM
  42. Michael, you wouldn’t by any chance be one of those “Saturday night people” Rahsaan Rolad Kirk refers to in the following rap—from his Bright Moments album (audience response is underlined):

    You know it’s good to be in a place that feels like you’re in your house, you know?  Yeah. Yeah, it’s a beaufiful thing, we’re glad you people’re assembled here with us on this Saturday night.  You know what I mean?  Yeah, yeah.  You don’t feel like Saturday night people.  Some Saturday night people, that’s the only night they get out, an’ they act like it.  (shouts and applause from audience) You know, like when you cage somethin’ up and when it gets out, they act like it.  That’s th’ way most Saturday night people act.
    Now we would like to think of some very beautiful bright moments — yeah, yeah, yeah — you know what I mean?
    Bright moments.
    Bright moments.
    Bright moments is like (chuckle) eat’n your last pork chop in London England, because you ain’t gonna git no mo . . . (laughter) cooked from home. 
    Bright moments! (laughter).
    Bright moments is like bein’ with your favorite love’n you all share’n’ the same ice cream dish.  (laughter) And you git mad when she gets the last drop.  (laughter) Bright moments! And you have to take her in your arms and git it the other way.  Whoo (laughter)
    Bright moments!
    That’s too heavy for most of you all ‘cause most of you all don’t know nothin’ ‘bout that kind of love.  The love you all have been taught about is the love in those magazines.  And I am fortunate that I didn’t have to look in magazines.  (laughter, clapping) (Rahsaan chuckles)
    Bright moments!
    Bright moments is like see’n’ something that you ain’t ever seen in you life and you don’t have to see it but you know how it looks.  (Yeah, clapping, woo hooo, etc. bright moments)
    Bright moments is like hearin’ some music that ain’t nobody else heard, and if they heard it they wouldn’t even recognize that they heard it ‘cause they been hearin’ it all their life but they nutted on it so, when you hear it and you start poppin’ your feet and jumpin’ up and down they get mad because you’re enjoying yourself but those are bright moments that they can’t share with you ‘cause they don’t even know how to go about listening to what you’re listening to and when you try to tell them about it they don’t know a damn thing about what your’re talking about!
    (Whistles, clapping, exclamations, etc.)
    Is there any other bright moments before we proceed on?  Testify!  Testify!  Bright moments, bright moments.  Bright moments is being at the Keystone Korners — beautiful — listening to geniuses like Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Beautiful.  Bright moments.  Bright moments is like hav’n brothers ‘n sisters and sisterettes and brotheretts like you all here listenin’ to us.  (Applause etc.)

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  09/15  at  09:07 PM
  43. And, wouldn’t you know, Rahsaan is on YouTube. Here he says a little prayer. The guy wailin’ on tambourine is Joe Texidor—Ron Burden on the drums. And check out the hair-do’s on those white women in the audience. Here he jams with Jack Bruce and Buddy Guy on Stormy Monday—NOT, I repeat, NOT ironic designated-celebration-day. Ever hear “Ode to Billie Joe” played on tenor? Here it is, from Prague, 1967.

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  09/15  at  09:35 PM
  44. Ahhh… Rahsaan sure had the spirit..

    And spyder is right about Let Me Take You Higher by Sly.

    Posted by  on  09/15  at  11:33 PM
  45. With odd synchronicity, the most despairing of Late Disco songs came burbling through my brain this morning as we were trying to get an old friend off the tennis court. I yelled out:

    Last dance, last dance for love
    yes, it’s my last chance
    for romance tonight

    Darker words have scarcely ever been sung.

    Posted by sfmike  on  09/16  at  02:30 AM
  46. Yeah, git up offa dat thing.  Come smoke the hash and roller skate, roller skate.  Let love shine and we will find “by the power invested in me by Kool and the Gang, I now pronounce you husband and wife.”

    Thanks for a good laugh and may all the family and Twisted Sister smile on the birthday boy.

    Posted by The Heretik  on  09/16  at  02:46 AM
  47. I never liked that Kool & the Gang song, but now I almost do, esp. thanks to Sean, Brian, and Kip, who articulated the answer I wanted to make much better than I would have.

    Most ominous of “party now while we have the chance” songs, courtesy of Irving Berlin: 

    there may be trouble ahead
    but while there’s moonlight & music & love & romance
    let’s face the music and dance

    before the fiddlers have fled
    before they ask us to pay the bill
    and while we still
    have the chance
    let’s face the music and dance

    soon
    we’ll be without the moon
    humming a different tune
    and then

    there may be teardrops to shed
    so while there’s moonlight & music & love & romance
    let’s face the music and dance

    Not a good wedding song.

    Posted by john  on  09/16  at  04:14 AM
  48. Celebrate good times, come on!

    captcha: “once” as in “once is not enough.”

    So let’s do it again, but this time as an anime music video (AMV) featuring Tokyo Mew Mew and Mermaid Melody.

    And again: here it is in a mashup with a little Jamaican flava dontcha know mon.

    Kylie Minogue

    And, if you insist on irony, OK, here it is, but I warn you, there’s a nekkid fat man dancing in here—not to mention a glimpse of weird Al— and it all hangs out, so this is not for the little ones, nor for those who value your sanity.

    Now that our eyeballs are scortched with irony, this’ll take care of that: come celebrate new crispy chicken nuggets at Wendy’s.

    It’s yer celebration blogfest, all celebration all the time, with and without irony.

    And to top things off, some smileys:  grin shock  cool smirk

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  09/16  at  05:37 AM
  49. Can’t remember whether “Celebration” played at the wedding, but we may have caught the spirit by choosing Neutral Milk Hotel’s “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” to waltz to:

    What a beautiful face
    I have found in this place
    That is circling all round the sun
    What a beautiful dream
    That could flash on the screen
    In a blink of an eye and be gone from me
    Soft and sweet
    Let me hold it close and keep it here with me

    And one day we will die
    And our ashes will fly from the aeroplane over the sea
    But for now we are young
    Let us lay in the sun
    And count every beautiful thing we can see
    Love to be
    In the arms of all I’m keeping here with me

    What a curious life we have found here tonight
    There is music that sounds from the street
    There are lights in the clouds
    Anna’s ghost all around
    Hear her voice as it’s rolling and ringing through me
    Soft and sweet
    How the notes all bend and reach above the trees

    Now how I remember you
    How I would push my fingers through
    Your mouth to make those muscles move
    That made your voice so smooth and sweet
    And now we keep where we don’t know
    All secrets sleep in winter clothes
    With one you loved so long ago
    Now he don’t even know his name

    What a beautiful face
    I have found in this place
    That is circling all round the sun
    And when we meet on a cloud
    I’ll be laughing out loud
    I’ll be laughing with everyone I see
    Can’t believe how strange it is to be anything at all

    Posted by  on  09/16  at  04:32 PM
  50. Thanks, JP! Sorry for the technical faux pas.

    captcha: men, as in, now is the time for all good ones to come to the aid of, well, me.

    Posted by  on  09/16  at  04:40 PM
  51. Did Zorba dance ironically or unironically?
    Happy Birthday Jamie! Celebrating your life is always good.

    Posted by  on  09/16  at  09:17 PM
  52. I tried not to, I really did. But I must take issue with the notion that party songs are necessarily ‘packaged’. Which impplies a fakeness; an artifice about them. This is often the misunderstanding of people who feel that music has to be meaningful. Just because something is defiantly unacademic and purposefully simple doesn’t mean it’s bad. Y’see there is no such thing as ‘ironic’ dancing. If you don’t want to celebrate and have a good time, forget about the bad times, or have an all-new state of mind, then sit your ass down and do something else instead.

    All this music is blues. And nobody accuses blues of being packaged. Those who comment that celebratory songs are a temporary response to the unrelenting misery of life, are correct. It’s no mistake that this ‘meaningless’ music grew out of(oppressed)black and gay culture in much the same way as heavy rock grew out of bored suburban youth. Losing yourself in the music and the moment and letting the spell of repetition fall upon you is a perfectly legitimate response to the hideous nature of reality. Replacing mental torment with physical joy is a pretty common thing - and plenty of people could live a lot longer if they self medicated with music.

    What celebration says about a wedding day is that we all know that reality is waiting wolf-like outside the door. The artificial, forced optimism of party songs says : But for now lets forget about that and party.

    Posted by saltydog  on  09/16  at  11:44 PM
  53. This doesn’t work so well without Joe Zawinul at the keyboard and Wayne Shorter on the sax, but for me the definitive life-affirming celbrative anthem isn’t Beethoven’s setting of Schiller’s hymn, but Weather Report, the second side of “Procession”

    Here’s the moral of the story:

    Life is short.
    Live it up!
    Celebrate!
    Anywhere the moon goes.

    That’s pretty universal, at least for us earthlings.

    Posted by  on  09/17  at  04:13 AM
  54. Back in my RnB days I used to love playing wedding gigs. Why, because everyone was there to party, from little kids to old codgers. It was fun fun fun in the sun, except we were playing Rnd, not surfin’ music. 

    captha: “party” as in kismet, tao, liminal

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  09/17  at  06:12 AM
  55. Personally, I don’t believe the actual pre-conditions or emergent conditions that arise from the lyrics of a particular song necessarily need be identical for the listener or performer at the time the song is listened to or performed.

    For example, I usually don’t set the necessary pre-conditions for “I Shot the Sheriff”.  I am perfectly happy to listen to that song without actually shooting the sheriff.  And I don’t feel bad about my detachment!  Take THAT, Dangeral Studies Department!

    Posted by  on  09/20  at  04:36 PM
  56. But Yasonyacky, it all depends on the mood of the song.  And I mean “mood” in the grammatical sense:  “I Shot the Sheriff” is in the indicative mood, past perfect tense, whereas “Celebration” is imperative, commanding you to celebrate good times.  Come on!

    And “If I Fell” is subjunctive, of course.  Need I add that the clever Larry Gallagher whose wedding inspired all this silliness wrote, in his youth, a smooth-jazz song called “Subjunctive Mood”?  About being dumped, of course:  “Your devastating message contained neither noun nor verb/ Although I must admit your tactics were syntactically superb/ And just when I had finally learned to shun the passive voice/ You left me in a subjunctive mood.”

    Posted by Michael  on  09/20  at  10:23 PM

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