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Songs about Rain

“Into each life some rain must fall”   So said Longfellow

This past July was apparently the wettest on record for the DC/Baltimore area.  This got me thinking about rain, and songs about rain.  While everyone would agree that we need rain, most times its a bummer in that it ruins outdoor plans, keeps you inside, and is associated with a lack of sunshine.  How is rain used in songs?

There are literally dozens if not hundreds of songs about rain.  So this will be just a small sample of rain songs that I dig for one reason or another.

Sometimes the message is pretty straightforward – the songwriter doesn’t like rain.  The Travis song ‘Why Does It Always Rain on Me‘ (off their 1999 album The Man Who was written by lead singer Fran Healy after traveling to Israel for winter holiday to get away from his rainy Scotland home.  And what did it do during his holiday – rain!  But Healy then also uses rain as a metaphor for a unsettled mental state:

Why does it always rain on me?
Even when the sun is shining I can’t avoid the lightning’

I love how the violin perfectly captures the depressing message of the song.

 

One of my favorite bands, Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR) had not one but two great songs about rain.  First up, ‘Have You Ever Seen the Rain‘ off their 1970 album Pendulum. Many people thought the song was about the Vietnam War or the loss of the idealism of the 60’s, but John Fogerty has said that in fact it was written about the creative tensions in the band and the imminent departure of his brother Tom even while the band was at the height of its commercial success. The lyrics capture this perfectly in the image of rain on a sunny day:

Have you ever seen the rain
Comin’ down on a sunny day?

 

The second great song from CCR is ‘Who’ll Stop the Rain’ off their 1970 album Cosmo’s Factory.  Again, many interpreted the song to be about the Vietnam War, but Fogerty has said it was actually written after CCR played at Woodstock.  After seeing the masses of fans singing and dancing despite being cold and muddy in the unrelenting rain, he went home and wrote the song.

Heard the singers playing, How we cheered for more.
The crowd had rushed together, Trying to keep warm.
Still the rain kept pouring, Falling on my ears.
And I wonder, Still I wonder Who’ll stop the rain.

Another sub 3 minute classic from CCR!

 

Let’s shift to the pop world.  A great example of rain as a metaphor for the complicated nature of emotional relationships is the Eurthymics song ‘Here Comes The Rain Again‘ from their 1984 album TouchDave Stewart has said that the melancholy mood of the song is due to “I’m playing a b-minor, but then I change it to put a b-natural in, and so it kind of feels like that minor is suspended, or major. So it’s kind of a weird course.” The song structure also repeatedly alternates between an A and B section with little variation, suggesting the monotony of continuous rain fall.  The lyrics captured in Annie Lennox’s beautiful vocals describe a tension between the complicated emotions that can happen simultaneously in a troubled relationship: resignation,depression, longing, but still love and desire.

Here comes the rain again
Raining in my head like a tragedy
Tearing me apart like a new emotion
Oh
I want to breathe in the open wind
I want to kiss like lovers do
I want to dive into your ocean
Is it raining with you

So baby talk to me
Like lovers do

 

Let’s go back a bit.  A great use of rain to speak to larger societal issues is the Bob Dylan classic ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’ from his 1963 album  The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.  The song is written in the style of an old English folk ballad with a mother repeatedly asking her son questions, and he answering them in increasingly apocalyptic terms.  The song is generally considered an anti-nuclear war ballad, although Dylan has said the rain imagery in it is not meant to be nuclear fallout, but “some sort of end that’s just gotta happen.”.  The lyrics get increasingly dark, culminating in

I’m a-goin’ back out ‘fore the rain starts a-fallin’
I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
Where the executioner’s face is always well-hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number…..
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

 

Ok, let’s do one for the youngsters in the audience.  Only Happy When It Rains by Garbage (off their self titled 1995 album).  On the face of it, the lyrics are pretty bleak and depressing, veering towards being a bit over the top – but actually that was the intent.  The song is actually a tongue in cheek poke at the general view at the time that grunge and alt rock bands only sang about depressing angst ridden subjects.

You know I love it when the news is bad
Why it feels so good to feel so sad?
I’m only happy when it rains
Pour your misery down
Pour your misery down on me

 

Ok time to start wrapping this one up.  There’s only one song about rain that  I can imagine finishing this post with.  Purple Rain by Prince.  The title song off the soundtrack to his 1984 movie, and the song that launched him to pop super-stardom, was apparently inspired after Prince attended several Bob Seger concerts and noticed the huge response that slow songs like Night Moves and Mainstreet received.  The meaning of its lyrics have been much debated – clearly its a love song, although Prince has been quoted as saying this about it:

When there’s blood in the sky – red and blue = purple.. purple rain pertains to the end of the world and being with the one you love and letting your faith/God guide you through the purple rain

Ok, now that we have cleared that up….  What’s interesting to me is that it is one of the few instances (at least for a song that was this popular) of rain not having a negative connotation, but rather a joyous, cleansing, ok, even spiritual feeling.  Prince’s impassioned vocals, along with the equally brilliant guitar solo, take the song to another level.  By the end of the song, you feel like you have taken a journey to a new better place where you can start anew, “bathing in the purple rain”.  Even if you aren’t completely sure what purple rain is.

 

Ok that will do it for now.  As I mentioned earlier, there are loads of songs about rain.  These are only the ones that immediately came to mind.  Perhaps I will do a follow up post some time looking at other examples.

Now it’s your turn! – what are some of your favorite songs about rain?

Sources: Wikipedia; Songfacts.com; Genius.com; NME.com

Remembering Rich

We’d like to take a short interlude from sharing new music and current music interests for a more personal post to remember a dear friend, brother in arms, and our third amigo, Rich.  This one’s a bit long, just a heads up.

But the stars are burning bright like some mystery uncovered


I’ll keep moving through the dark with you in my heart

My blood brother   – Bruce Springsteen

 

It’s been 15 years since Mike and Paul lost Rich to cancer. 15 years of births, graduations and soon a marriage among our collective children. Children who have been regaled time after time with stories recounting the escapades, wit and wisdom of “Uncle Rich”. 15 years of new music from our favorite artists, of discoveries of new artists, of attending concerts.

So many of those memories  are enveloped in a soundtrack of our favorite music. So many memories that we made over our 20 year friendship with Rich were built on or  enhanced by our shared mutual appreciation that so much of what we do everyday can be better with the right music, even if it’s just in the background. Rich used to joke about wouldn’t it be great if life was a musical, which led to all kinds of funny jokes involving alot of bad singing.  If not a musical, our time with Rich was greatly deepened and enhanced by our shared experience of the music we loved.

A few short years from now  Rich will have been gone for  as long as we knew him, but to be truthful we’re not actually without him. So much of music we listen to now has its origins  in the music the three of us listened to in the 80s and 90s and early 2000‘s.

So what follows are a few memories of our time with Rich framed through the music we loved or were experiencing at the time.

Mike: I’m driving down the Garden State Parkway with Rich in his beast of a car. This was when the tolls were $.25. At the tollboth, from the passenger seat I would try hook shot the quarter over the top of the car into the collection basket. One particular time on the way to Wildwood, the  DJ from  WMMR in Philly teased the next song with “next, one of the greatest songs ever!” During the commercial break,  Rich and I threw out our predictions: Bruce Springsteen (naturally), the Stones the Who, or Led Zeppelin. The commercial ends, the DJ comes back and plays…… ‘In a Big country’……by Big Country. We looked at each other and burst out laughing.

Paul: As regular readers of this blog will know Mike and Paul are huge Springsteen fans.  We shared this passion with Rich (after all, he named his dog Bruce!).  I have many fond memories of Rich that involve Bruce.  But two stand out.

Back in the 80’s before the Internet and streaming, you had to turn to bootleg recordings if you wanted to more fully experience a favorite artist.  And so you would head down to your favorite independent record shop who carried bootleg records, and rummage through the backbins (sometimes you had to ask- “Do you have anything else from Bruce, WINK WINK??).  Rich had a copy of Springsteen’s famous concert from the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco in 1978 that we loved.  Only problem was that one day he left it in the back of his car (did we mention it was a beast?) and the sun had melted the plastic leaving it slightly warped.  But did that stop Rich from enjoying it?  Turns out it was still playable on a turntable, if you ignored the fact that at a certain part of the record the needle would do its best impression of rollercoaster ride going up and down and up… and that song (don’t remember which) would have its own unique set of pauses and stops.  But since it was a bootleg to begin with (and this was in the pre-digital days) it actually didn’t make that much of a difference!

Here’s ‘Because the Night‘ from that concert:

 

Another memory.  In 1992, Bruce pulled a Guns R’ Roses and released two albums at same time, Human Touch and Lucky Town.  The resulting tour without the E St. Band has been the subject of much debate over the years in terms of how the new band held up against the E. Streeters.  But of course since it was Bruce, Mike, Paul and Rich were there.  During one of the many highlights (I want to say it was Promised Land, but my memory is fuzzy) Rich was dancing like a maniac, slipped, and hit his face on the stairs.  He had a big gash above his one eye, but continued dancing like nothing had happened.  Finally his girlfriend at the time insisted they get medical attention, so they left and Mike and I stayed.  A while later (after all this is a Bruce concert!) right as the first song of the encore starts, his girlfriend comes back and says we need to take him to hospital for stitches.  Mike and I look at each other with that dilemma – leave a Bruce concert early?  I think one of us even suggested we wait until it was finished (after all it wasn’t an emergency at that point).  His girlfriend gave us a withering look and might have even said “I can’t believe that Bruce is more important than your friend!”  So of course we left…. we met Rich outside and what is the first thing he says??  “What the hell are you leaving a Bruce concert early for??!!”  It was at that point that I realized that Rich and his girlfriend probably wouldn’t be a long term thing.

Here’s ‘My Beautiful Reward from Lucky Town, the song we walked out of at that concert.

 

Mike: Sitting on the roof of Rich’s apartment building overlooking the Philadelphia skyline at night. I don’t remember what music was playing but whenever I remember it I hear Springsteen’s  Streets of Philadelphia playing, a song which seems prophetic in retrospect.

 

Paul: Another artist that we were really into during college was John Mellencamp.  His album Scarecrow was as much a part of the soundtrack of our college years as Born in the USA was.  My particular memory here was getting together with Mike and Rich the
summer after our senior year, right before we were all parting ways to go to med school or grad school, for one last 3 amigos bonding experience.  We went to Rich’s house, listened to music, shared memories, and drank alot of beer.  And then (perhaps because of the aforementioned beer drinking) Rich said let’s make some videos.  Remember this was before Iphones and camera phones etc, so setting up a video wasn’t that straightforward.  There was a concept video to the EaglesKing of Hollywood‘ that involved me in a rain coat, hat and glasses staring at a picture of Julianne Phillips (don’t ask).  But the best part was a performance video we did lipsynching (and airplaying instruments to a number of Bruce and Mellencamp tunes.  We had an old acoustic guitar, a broom and some pots and pans and kitchen utensils for drums.  It was a blast.

Where is the video you ask?  It is probably around somewhere on some form of old media that doesn’t play anymore, although I am not sure.  But instead, how about Mellencamp’s ‘R.O.C.K. in the USA, which I definitely remember we “played” that night.

 

Rich was a unique quirky one of a kind friend who was loyal to a fault – going through college together, post college, and the beginning of forming our families bonded us together like brothers.  While his tastes in music didn’t venture perhaps as widely as Mike and I’s, his passion for it and the meaning that it gave to our lives meant that we always had that connection to each other, regardless of whether we were separated geographically or involved in our own things.  Whenever we got together, the memories would be recalled, the new experiences shared, and the music, always the music, would be playing.

At his funeral, Rich requested that ‘Jungleland‘ off of ‘Born to Run‘ be played, and we honored his request.  Let’s honor it again.  Rich, we miss you every single day, every single time we share a song with each other, or go to a concert together.  But we know that you are always with us, in the songs and notes of the music we love.

 

Swim (for Kristin)

 

Swim

I have what some may call an overinflated idea of the power that music has in our lives. I often feel that I haven’t fully experienced something until I’ve associated that event with a “soundtrack”. 

So after my little sister Kristin revealed recently that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer I began to think about music’s value to a person faced with such a challenge. Could I gather a few songs that might , just a little, inspire, provide support or encouragement or maybe distract, for three or four minutes from the daily grind of treatments, appointments and side effects. 

I recognize the conceit of doing this. To assume I understand what it feels like to deal with such a diagnosis would be crazy. The shock, the fear, the uncertainty and anticipation of the upcoming battle and even the work of presenting a brave face to the world when the effort to do it is to much to bear is something I’ve been blessed not to have personally experienced.

 On top of all of that, what if the music I pick is not even music she  likes. So I decided this doesn’t have to mean anything more than this: Little Sis here’s a few songs that mean something to me and I hope they might mean a little something to you as you fight your fight. 

“Swim” by Jack’s Mannequin is pretty direct. The lead singer wrote this while undergoing treatment for leukemia. Obviously he gets it.

 

This Tom Petty song is especially poignant. Stevie Nicks on backing vocals. This was recorded at his last performance.

 

“Waiting on a Sunny Day” was written by Bruce after 9/11. I choose to view it as an ultimately optimistic song. Today may not be sunny but “things are gonna be ok”.

 

One of the most powerful uses of music in my lifetime was Live Aid. A mostly unknown singer Bob Geldof organized a trans continental daylong concert from most of the top artists of that time. Bowie’s performance of this song was one of the highlights. The song has been co-opted more times than I can count but I believe there are heroes in every cancer center who are heroes “just for one day” , who get up the next day and say it again.

 

U2’s catalogue is overflowing with majestic inspirational music. This one in particular got me. “ The Lights if Home” to me means that when you are struggling, keep your eyes on home,” your loved ones, family and friends to help you get through.

 

 

Of course this song pretty much explains itself. 

So there it is. Just a few songs for whatever that may be worth. Maybe they’ll give you a few minutes of distraction or a smile.

Love,

Your big bro

‘Eye of the Tiger’ as played by an Orchestra of 80+ Double Basses

My son plays the double bass, and each year takes part in a really cool summer camp called BassWorks – a one week summer music camp of only double bass players.  The camp includes students of all ages and levels of abilities, and the faculty includes some of the best double bass players in the country and world.

For their final concert, in addition to more classical pieces, they usually do one popular song.  This year it was Survivor’s ‘Eye of the Tiger’.  Check it out!

 

If you search for BassWorks on YouTube, you can also sample the entire 2.5 hour final concert which includes the different smaller ensembles and the full orchestra final concert.  The faculty recital is also worth checking out to see that the double bass is much more than just a accompaniment instrument in an orchestra.

Worst songs ever _mikes list

Ok we’ll start with the admission that we can be snobs when it comes to music. With that in mind , Paul and I decided to compile a list of some of the worst songs ever .  I suppose beauty is in the eye of the beholder so our apologies if we offend anyone. Feel free to offer additions (or defenses) if you choose.  Mike’s requirements for his list:

  • the song needs to have been at least a modest hit
  • done by an established artist (people who should know better)
  • no 1 off novelty songs
  • extra credit for bad songs from artists who’ve done otherwise good work
  • no Christmas songs. That’s a special list we’ll do in December

 

I start with a twofer because these two bands are the same band.  The level of “look how sensitive I am” is staggering. Creed is sensitive in the “I’m spiritual but not religious” kind of way.  Nickelback  is sensitive in a “high school jock who just got high for the first time” kind of way.

 

 

This bit of lyrical magic should explain the inclusion of this hit should explain its inclusion

           “And I try

        oh my God,

 do I try!

Try all the time

in this institution”

Starship is like a great TV show where they kill off your favorite characters, the main writer quits and the Network CEO’s screwup nephew gets to write, direct and star in an episode.   80’s Schlock at its best

Special mention for bad duets. Incredible because this one includes two first ballot rock and roll Hall of Famers.

*Extra credit for this lyric video which tells us who is singing which lyrics (because no-one can tell the difference between their voices) and manages to spell Michael wrong  EVERY SINGLE TIME.

The first song I thought of when started to make this list. Exemplifies everything about what was ,ummm ,  not so good about a lot of 80s music.

 

If music video is supposed to bring the artist’s vision from audio to the visual world, I’d hate to see what else was going on in Dennis DeYoung’s brain when he wrote this song for Styx.

 

I. CAN’T. EVEN.

Where to start. 80s pseudo- metal hair bands could fill this list but I’ll choose this representative gem from Warrant. The lyrics, if you choose to pay attention, have what I think is supposed to be sexual innuendo ( as envisioned by horny 9th grade boys)

 

In the “I can’t , I won’t and you can’t ” category we have…..

 

I’m riding Paul’s coattails on this one with the Grammy screw ups…….. but uggh….. this one annoys me.

Chris Cross won best new artist  in 1981 at the Grammys over the Pretenders, Best Album, over The Wall by Pink Floyd, Billy Joel and Frank Sinatra, Best Record over New York, New York by Sinatra

*(oh and by the way , the Clash released London Calling that year. “Why theGrammys Suck” , could be a future column. Stay tuned.)

 

Billy RayCyrus should be on this list if only for owning some responsibility for popularizing the mullet.

One List of the Worst Songs of all Time

Mike and Paul love music – all kinds of music.  That’s why we started a blog after all!  So we tend to have a pretty wide area of toleration, if not love, for all kinds of music.  We would never say we hate for example, all country music, or all hip hop music, or even all polka music.

Having said that, we have to admit that there are some songs that just don’t cut it.  Inane melodies, pointless embarrassing lyrics, some songs are just bad.  Even artists with songs we love can over the course of a long career reach a creative nadir.  So without further ado, here is, in my opinion, a list of the worst songs of all time.  Disagree?  Have suggestions for additional songs?  Leave a comment below.

 

Beach Boys  Kokomo

Ok the Beach Boys are a legendary band, revolutionizing rock and roll in the early 60’s with their classic surfer sound.  But 25 years on, they had sunk to this annoying piece of pop drek. Pointless chorus, and it goes downhill from there.

 

Starship – We Built this City

This one makes most lists of all time worst songs.  What began as Jefferson Airplane, the influential late 60’s psychedelic folk/rock band, had morphed in the mainstream rock band Jefferson Starship, which descended by 1985 into Starship, which produced this.  The pretentiousness of the lyrics, combined with a bland melody is just too much. Extra rotten tomatoes for the cheesiness of the video.

 

Lou Ree – Metal Machine Music

In 1975, Lou Reed released this album of, let’s be honest, noise.  There are no melodies, no lyrics, no rhythms, just an hour plus of guitar feedback and other effects.  Some have hailed it as the forerunner of industrial or noise rock.  There is speculation it was a big middle finger to his record company.  Either way it is un-listenable.  If you ever want to clear a party, just put this on.  Here is a mercifully short clip.  The entire album is over an hour of this.

 

Van Halen  – Why Can’t This Be Love?

Sometimes its not the song melody that makes a song the worst, but the lyrics.  This 1986 song, the first with lead singer Sammy Hagar, gets the nod for  utterly inane lyrics.  One choice example: “Hey only fools rush in and only time will tell, If we stand the test of time.”  Seriously guys, this is the best you could come up with?

 

Kid Rock – All Summer Long

I have to say up front that I have never been a Kid Rock fan, which doesn’t make me particularly popular with my in-laws who live in Michigan.  What annoys me about this song is the complete rip-off (some would say appropriation) of the melody structure of  Warren Zevon‘s ‘Werewolves of London’ and Lynyrd Skynyrd‘s ‘Sweet Home Alabama.’  I know that there are few original ideas in music (everyone is always recycling new ideas for new creative purposes) but in my opinion this crosses the line into desecration of two classics.

 

USA for Africa – We are the World

Ok so yes, this song was done for a noble purpose (to raise money for famine victims in Africa).  And yes it brought together the best of mid 80’s American pop and rock stars to record it (watching the video is a kick in that sense).  But the song itself, written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richtie?  Not so good.

 

Lou Bega – Mambo #5

This one is emblematic of any number of one hit wonder songs that become massively popular in a short amount of time.  I’m thinking the Macarena, Who Let the Dogs Out, Gangnam Style.  They may not necessarily be terrible songs themselves, but they get played over and over and over and over and over…again on the radio to the point where you want to destroy your radio.

 

Dionne & Friends – That’s What Friends Are For

Written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager.  Ok.  Covered in this version by Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder.  Granted.  And it also was a charity song for AIDS research and prevention – a noble purpose.  But it makes my list for a very specific reason.  At the 1986 Grammy Awards, this song beat out the following songs for Song of the Year – Steve Winwood – Higher Love; Paul Simon – Graceland; Peter Gabriel – Sledgehammer.  Stop for a second and read that list again.  Enough said.  I guess its not the song’s fault it won, but if it hadn’t been written it wouldn’t have won.

 

Dan Hill – Sometimes When We Touch

This 1977 song by songwriter Dan Hill is the perfect example of overly earnest lyrical sentiments that quickly collapses into annoying tripe and cheesiness. As one song lyric goes, “The honesty’s too much, And I have to close my eyes, And hide.”  Couldn’t have said it better myself, Dan.

 

Extreme – More than Words

A hair band trying to show its sensitive side.  The message to the girl in the song is to show her love for the protagonist with more than words.  Maybe its just me, but this one creeps me out.  Reminds me of the archetypal scene in the backseat of a car on a Saturday night where the captain of the football team is trying to get the cheerleader to give it up by showing his “sensitive side.”

 

Wang Chung – Everybody Have Fun Tonight

This 1986 hit by Wang Chung is a good example of how bad some 1980s music became.  Pointless, self involved, new wave cheesiness.  They even refer to themselves in the song lyrics.  Bonus rotten tomatoes for the music video – enough to induce a seizure from all the rapid fire jump cuts.

 

Stevie Nicks Silent Night

Covers of Christmas classics by contemporary artists could be its whole own category of worst songs.  Why does every artist who has more than 2 albums feel the need to do a Christmas album?  Easy money I guess, since you don’t to write the songs, just sing and record them and put it out during the holiday season.  Most of these covers are just plain boring, nondescript, or bland.  Every once in a while a new classic is born.  But the flip side is this selection off A Very Special Christmas Vol. 1, which has Stevie Nicks completely ruining Silent Night.  Completely misguided pairing of artist to song.  And the backing vocals from Robbie Nevil don’t help.

 

So that’s it for now?  Violently disagree?  Dumbfounded that I forgot your favorite selection?  Leave a comment below!

Frank Turner – Be More Kind

Image result for be more kind

Frank Turner is an English singer whose songs have been described as folk punk.  A former member of the punk band Million Dead, his songs as a solo artist are folk songs with a punk asthetic – fast paced, aggressive, fist pumping and easy to sing loud to.  What we really love about his songs though is the message inherent in his lyrics: to be true to yourself, experience life to the fullest, and be authentic.  Very inspirational and life affirming at any age, whether your adult life is just starting or you’re facing midlife and questioning what comes next.

Turner has never shied away from the political, but it hasn’t been as much of a focus as earlier in his career.

Early in his solo career he wrote  songs bursting with youthful indignation and righteous anger. They were sometimes political, sometimes blasphemous and occasionally profane.

The last two albums, 2013‘s Tape Deck Heart and 2015‘s Positive Songs for Negative People found Frank focusing more inwardly; somewhat pessimistically, on TDH and then with a somewhat  sunnier outlook on Positive Songs. Those albums chronicle a personal emotional journey from a darker emotional place to new promising relationships. 

2018 has Frank turning his gaze back outward to the rest of the world.

His latest album, Be More Kind returns to  earlier themes.  The election of Donald Trump in the US, and Brexit in his home UK, have made him contemplate the meaning of these events in our time, and how to continue to be authentic when the world is “slipping over the brink,” as he states in the punk tinged ‘1933‘, an allusion to the years before WWII and the start of the rise of Hitler in Germany.  The song is a direct slap in the listener’s face to wake up and pay attention to what’s going on, a pretty terrifying take on the current state of world affairs.

While 1933 (along with the one off song ‘Sand in the Gears‘ that he premiered right after Trump’s election in Jan. 2017) are directly confrontational, Turner’s larger question on his current album is how to move forward to a better place given the situation we find ourselves in.  His answer, as you may have guessed by now, is answered in the title track ‘Be More Kind‘.  Starting quietly with just acoustic guitar, the song slowly builds to a full  yet restrained melody as Turner implores us to show more kindness towards each other, try to better understand each other and find common ground, regardless of our political views or beliefs.

We’ve stopped talking to each other
And there’s something wrong with that
So before you go out searching
Don’t decide what you will find
Be more kind, my friends, try to be more kind

 

In other songs, Turner explores this theme of connection by focusing on finding individual connection with another within a futuristic nightmare landscape where the world is already over the brink (‘20th Century Survival Blues‘)  or when faced with a literal and figurative ‘Blackout‘:

Meet me in the middle
Meet me in the middle
Bring a burning candle with you
Meet me in the middle
Meet me in the middle
I will be there waiting for you

Musically, this is Turner’s most expansive album to date, incorporating not just his trademark punk folk as well as rock style, but also the most pop influenced songs of his career.  While ‘There She Is‘ is a lovely slice of acoustic pop balladry, ‘Little Changes‘ uses an upbeat and bouncy melody to impart the message that “the big things stay the same until we make Little changes” – change, whether in your personal relationships or in society as a whole, cannot happen all at once but needs to start one step at a time, always moving forward.

In our mind, the highlight of the album and the song that brings it all together is ‘Make America Great Again‘, where Turner brilliantly turns the Trump slogan on its head, using the conceit of an Englishman using the US/England “special relationship” to give advice to his country’s former colony.  After suggesting in the chorus that we make America great again by “By making racists ashamed again, Let’s make compassion in fashion again” Turner ends the song by saying:

Let’s be a friend to our oldest friends
And call them out when they’re faltering
Remind them of their best selves and then
We’ll make America great again

Be More Kind provides a compelling reminder for finding our best selves again, for showing kindness, love and tolerance of others, as the only way to make it through these challenging times.