Thursday, 13 November 2008

Killer Opening Songs (Tracy Chapman - Talkin' 'bout A Revolution)

So, where were you when Barack Obama became the 44th president of the United States of America? That is one of the two questions that future generations will be asking us in years to come. The other one will be: What were you doing whilst history was being made?

To which Killer Opening Songs will reply... will reply... will reply...
Psssss, psssss... K.O.S., come out from under the bed, mate, it's all right, people will understand, you don't have to be ashamed of anything. See, we all have a soft, romantic, idealistic side and you, as part of me, but without being totally me which makes you a third of you with two thirds of me thrown in for good measure... Oh, I digress. Anyway, we all have moments when we are swallowed up by the surrounding euphoria and dare to dream. And that's what you were doing last Tuesday 4th November in the evening whilst washing up. Dreaming. That was the day the USA had chosen to vote. That was the day that the USA had picked up to make history. But you did not know that because you are five hours ahead of those who live in the East Coast and eight of those who dwell in the West Coast, so in your own way and guided by your subsconscious mind (capricious human artifact whose spell we fall under once in a while) your hand reached for that CD that many years ago had shaken you to the core. Those 36 minutes, 11 seconds of pure and blissful paradise. And you dared to do the impossible in these times of political cynicism and social misanthropy. You dared to dream. And as the first lines of 'Talkin' 'bout a Revolution', the Killer Opening Song from Tracey Chapman's eponymously titled debut album, blared out of the stereo in your kitchen, you felt as if the verses were clinging to your skin and you were being enveloped in a feverish embrace. Tracy Chapman's voice manages to capture that 80s angst caused by Reagan and Thatcher's laissez-faire market policies. And you couldn't find a more appropriate time to play this masterpiece than on that night:
Finally the tables are starting to turn/Talking about a revolution/Finally the tables are starting to turn/Talking about a revolution oh no/Talking about a revolution oh no
There are Killer Opening Songs that become trail-blazers in their own right. Their other-worldly nature strikes the listener as much an allegory as a melody. And tonight K.O.S. will be opening another mini-section within a section: tracks at the beginning of an album that have become either trendsetters or generational benchmarks. Some of them might feature famous guitar riffs, whereas other will boast powerful lyrics. There will be tunes whose delicate delivery will be the equivalent of venturing into a magical realm, maybe reminiscent of the Aztecs' cultural exuberance or the enchantment of the Brothers Grimm's fairy tales.
These weekly Proustian memories (although on this subject the late French writer might have disagreed with K.O.S. as these souvenirs will be retrieved by intelligence, rather than by accident. My riposte would be that on being the object, K.O.S. turns the listener into the subject and therefore the effect of listening to a Killer Opening Song that has become a musical milestone in its own right is an involuntary act, pretty much the essence of the Proustian memory) will unlock episodes of our past lives which will produce elation and joy on being relived. So, a stiff upper lip and self-restraint are called for. K.O.S. would not like its beautiful bloggy-house to be flooded by readers' tears. Oh, all right, go on, bring out your hankies, let's all have a good ol' sob, shall we!
In the meantime, let's enjoy once more this epic song from a bygone era (a more innocent one, I would hazard to add) and let's sing together: Finally the tables are starting to turn/Talking about a revolution/Finally the tables are starting to turn/Talking about a revolution oh no/Talking about a revolution oh no.

Irreverent note: In nine months' time will we be able to say that Obama also contributed to the growth of the world's population (although inadvertently, mind)? And how many of those babies will be called Obama? Just a thought.




Copyright 2008

26 comments:

  1. I like better Fast Car, but this one is fine too.
    Saludos,
    Al Godar

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  2. Ah! I was on the plane in our return trip from Miami. We were looking in the airports to see how things were going for Obama, although I was sure whe would win.

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  3. chapman rocks.
    classy gal, this tracy.

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  4. Thanks, Al and Garri. I love 'Fast Car', Al, man, it really rocks.

    Greetings from London.

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  5. Wouldn't it be fun if Obama played that KOS at his inauguration? I feel like inspiring lyrics are playing in the background these days. People even seem to have forgotten the economic woes with this pleasant turn of events.

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  6. Thanks, Sarah. Although I love this track and as you rightly asserted, it is quite inspirational, it could be seen a little OTT for some people and might scare some political middle-of-the-roaders away. Still, let's enjoy the dream while it lasts, because it won't last forever, that I can vouch for:-)!

    Greetings from London.

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  7. This was one of my favorite tapes (yes, tapes) in the 80's. (Loved 'Fast Car', too.)

    Thanks for a walk down memory lane.

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  8. Very Great song, and very great (also) interprete...

    I know all the words of this song !

    Good post...

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  9. Yes, let's say tapes, why not? I still use them (I think I am the only one in the world who does, just joking :-D!)

    Thanks for your comments.

    Greetings from London.

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  10. love the album and this song.

    "...pure and blissful paradise."
    yes, yes, yes!

    speaking of tapes, that's the format i have this one in. seeing as how my car only has a tape player installed, i still use them on a regular basis.

    and i agree with you that it might be too much for some. unfortunately.

    beautiful post. so well written.

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  11. Awesome post!

    (I love Tracy Chapman-- so much so that I was even toying with the idea of making an Obama vid using "New Beginning" as the soundtrack. :-)

    Greetings from Wisconsin.

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  12. Thanks for visiting me all the way in East Africa :) Oh I LOVE LOVE LOVE Tracy Chapman & funnily enough was just listening to this very album over the weekend ...

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  13. Wow...you couldn't find a better time to play this song and Tracy!

    love her..and i wonder where she is and what she's doing

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  14. Where was I? In bed watching the television with the love of my life.

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  15. Thanks to everyone for your kind comments. Tracy's got a new album out and was promoting it in GB over the weekend. She was on BBC Radio 4 (note to self: download the podcast of her interview)

    Vesper, knowing now where you were last week when Obama won, do you see yourself reflected in the irreverent note :-D (lol)?

    Greetings from London.

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  16. Love this song,

    I think it'd be great to see more kids named Barack and Obama ;)

    One love, M

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  17. Thanks, maithri, for your kind comments.

    Greetings from London.

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  18. Thank you for your visit.
    I listened to the variations of La Comparsa. Father and son are such gifted musicians, their music touches heart and soul.

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  19. Perfect.

    Pass the tissues, please.

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  20. i love tracy chapman!

    and yes, i'm psyched to go to oz!

    GO OBAMA!

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  21. Fitting song! A few hrs before Obama was named President Elect I was serving as a poll-watcher for his campaign. I came home after the polls closed(9:00 pm) and watched all the votes come in. 11:00 pm (eastern time) in front of my eyes, he won CA and then the annoncement roared across the screen--BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT ELECT. For the first time in my life, I am proud to be an American.

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  22. Thank you all for your kind comments.

    Greetings from London.

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  23. More nosalgia for me. I love TC, this song and Fast Car too.

    I was home glued to the TV watching the results come in, ready to stay awake all night if I had to in order to hear the final announcement.

    --Curmudgeon

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  24. Thanks, I guess your feelings echo those of many of your fellow citizens.

    Greetings from London.

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  25. Just when I thought I was done tearing up about November 4, here I am again. I remember seeing Tracy Chapman play live years ago at an outdoor concert with my sister, happily singing this song and then it seemed like just a song, albeit a great one.

    Now this song seems more like a reality. Thank you for remembering this for me.

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  26. Oh, TB, don't you know that I don't follow the rules ;-)? I usually celebrate after everyone's packed up and gone home.

    Greetings from London.

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