“truth to power” – onerepublic (2017)

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Hurricane Harvey ravaged Houston, Texas and the surrounding area over the weekend.  News footage of the flooding and devastation caused by the first major hurricane (category 3 or higher) to make landfall in the United States since 2005 has been disturbing.  Communities and interstates are completely submerged.  Commercial buildings and private residences have been reduced to rubble.  And the death toll continues to rise as thousands of people require rescue.

After the brutal onslaught on Texas, the hurricane has changed trajectory and is currently moving towards Louisiana.  Though 18 Texas counties have been officially declared federal disasters, Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards is bracing for the worst per public statements made earlier today.  With the specter of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated Louisiana and the New Orleans in 2005, not too far in the past, people are justifiably worried.

In addition to covering the storm itself and the aftermath of its destruction, the dialogue has naturally included President Donald Trump.  Everyone is wondering how Trump till react to the first natural disaster to occur since taking office.  George W. Bush, his Republican predecessor, famously screwed up the response to Hurricane Katrina.  Supplies and trailer were delayed and public policy regarding emergency management were criminally mishandled.

Hurricane Katrina and the mismanagement of its effects have provided precedence for how the Trump administration’s response to Hurricane Harvey will be judged.  With Trump’s FEMA director Brock Long calling Hurricane Harvey “the worst disaster” in Texan history with recovery to make many years, not a lot of confidence has been instilled in Trump to issue a swift and inclusive humanitarian cost.

The immediate devastation deserves all the attention and resources required to minimize loss of life.  However, there is another larger issue here.  While it is important Trump handles the disaster effectively, there is the long-term problem of climate change.  Specifically, how Trump will view and handle climate change as a result of Hurricane Harvey.

Trump has not been a friend to the environmental community.  He pulled the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord, promoted increased reliance on coal, and reduced regulations within the Environmental Protection Agency to favor businesses and their bottom line.  Though over 99% of all scientists agree that climate change is negatively impacting our planet and that even our own military is treating climate change as a threat to national security, Trump and his administration have continued to push policies and rhetoric that are detrimental to our safety.

Hurricane Harvey is a prime example of how climate change will shape our world to come.  Not only can we expect to see more storms of this nature, but increasingly powerful ones over the years.  We will also see hurricanes hit landfall in places where such events were extremely rare (remember when Hurricane Sandy hit New York five years ago).  Hurricanes are not the only things that will increase in intensity and strength.  We will see continue sea level rising, increased forest fires, longer droughts, and stronger tornadoes.

Climate change has a severe impact on social welfare beyond immediate signs.  Consider the Syrian refugee crisis for a moment.  Since 2011, over 6 million refugees have fled Syria to seek refuge in other parts of the world.  While political factors such as the Syrian Civil War between President Bashar al-Assad and his opponents have played a key role in the refugee crisis, much of what has become the biggest humanitarian crisis of our time can also be attributed to droughts that have lasted years because of climate change.

While natural disasters have occurred throughout the ages without human influence, the increased frequency and intensity of these latest disasters should alarm even the most harshest critics.  How Trump will be judged will be based on how he handles climate change.  We have come to a point where temporary fixes are not a solution.  For example, Florida has seen higher tides that have pushed seawater and sea life into the city streets.  Even with pumps running at maximum capacity, the effort is almost futile.  Sorry, President Trump, but building a wall to keep the ocean out isn’t going to help.

The ongoing crisis caused by Hurricane Harvey is a perfect platform to build a sound and progressive climate change plan on.  This should the moment climate change deniers wake up and realize that carbon taxes, cap and trade, increased investment in solar energy, and reduced reliance on fossil fuels are the answers to slow down, or even reverse, climate change.

However, I am being optimistic.  Frankly, no one really knows how Trump will react to the crisis.  A few tweets are meaningless when simple policy can be enacted that could save millions of lives and billions of dollars over the next decade.  But, unless Trump can find some way to make money personally from progressive climate change initiatives, I doubt he will do anything.

I recently saw Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power.  Released 11 years after his groundbreaking and Academy Award-winning film An Inconvenient Truth, this new documentary shows the damage caused by climate change since then and the work Gore has done to promote his initiative.  In the film, Gore gives presentations on the effects of climate change over the last decade. Sobering new information about recent climate influenced crises is presented, but there is room for hope as Gore also reports on how domestic businesses and foreign nations have adopted policies friendly to climate change and invest in alternatives to fossil fuels.

Since seeing that documentary a few weeks ago, climate change has been on my mind a lot.  Being a millennial, I had always known that environmental issues were worthy of attention.  Earth Day, our holiday to promote environmental awareness, only started in 1970 which means that my parent’s and my generation are only the first two to really embrace the cause.  Fifty years can be a long time, but not so when it comes to government bureaucracy.  While a lot has been done to raise awareness of the effects of climate change over the last five decades, the last 11 years since Gore’s first film have proven to be the most significant due to urgency.

In the climax of the documentary, Gore is at the Paris Climate Accord.  After successfully negotiating with a solar panel company to donate panels to India thus getting their government to join, Gore feels vindicated after dedicating several decades to fighting climate change.  However, that joy is short lived.  Gore meets with Trump to get his cooperation on sticking to progressive climate change policy, but Trump ultimately pulls out of the Paris agreement.

“Truth to Power” is a single recorded by OneRepublic for the film.  Produced by the legendary T-Bone Burnett, the single is an emotionally piano-driven ballad that captures the raw yearning for change seen in Gore’s film.  Quite benign and uninteresting as a song on its own, the song carries power given the context.  It is certainly a track that is meant to be more about the message rather than the aural aesthetic.  After the intense experience of the film, the song packs a punch as the viewer reflects on their world and what they can do to change it.

If we haven’t passed it already, we are very near the tipping point. And Trump is a threat that could exacerbate the situation beyond repair.  One of the key aspects of Gore’s film is the wave of support an activism that followed the 2006 documentary.  In the sequel, we see Gore training climate change activists who then venture into their community to help them adopt for climate friendly practices.  That is the truth to power.  People have the power to enact the change they want to see.  And it starts on an individual level.  Teach friends and neighbors to be more environmentally friendly, vote for people with a pro-environment agenda, and hold our current leaders accountable.  If anything good comes out of Hurricane Harvey, I hope that it inspires people to act together to prevent it from happening again.

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“do you wanna hold me?” – bow wow wow (1983)

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I’m an avid reader.  And I seek out a lot of different kinds of material to read.  Reading mostly non-fiction, I look for resources that can offer great recommendations or other motivating factors to pick up a book.  These include listening to author interviews on National Public Radio, chats with friends, or even book clubs.  I’ve been a member of several book clubs.  However, the latest one I’m in is facilitated by my community radio station and we read highly engaging critiques on cool music.

For the music book club, I’ve been reading Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984 by Simon Reynolds.  Published in 2006, Reynolds’ book is a thorough exploration of the music created after punk came and went.  A progressive form of rock music that distanced itself from nostalgia-driven punk musicality, postpunk drew from avant-garde ideas, world music, and a DIY aesthetic.  Only lasting a few years, postpunk would diverge and develop into other forms such as New Pop, New Wave, and New Romanticism.

Throughout the book, Reynolds spends entire chapters focusing on a particular band, region, and musical style.  Whether it is breaking down the Midwestern industrial motif of Pere Ubu, the bleak gothic stylings of Joy Division, or John Lydon’s post-Sex Pistols anti-music of Public Image Ltd., Reynolds’ book is thorough and thoughtful.  He frames bands and their geographical upbringing from a historical perspective while also breaking down signature tracks in the poetic fashion only rock journalists know how to write.

While his analysis of songs and their compositional qualities are interesting, a lot of it is flowery descriptors that can be hard to decipher even if you know the song well.  Basically, semantics and objective at that.  While I enjoy critiques like that, I can only take so much before it becomes boring.  Fortunately, the book does provide a historical narrative when explaining musical context.

History provides a great framework for storytelling and I like a splash of narrative in non-fiction reads.  I enjoy postpunk and New Wave a lot.  They are among my favorite genres of music.  And this books has helped further my appreciation.  As I’m reading, naturally I enjoy the chapters covering bands that I am very fond of.  However, I’m enjoying the exploration of bands I either don’t know well beyond a single (or two) and those I had never heard before.  It motivates me to check out those bands or look deeper into their catalogue.

One chapter I found incredibly fascinating was the one about Bow Wow Wow.  Of course, I had grown up hearing their cover of “I Want Candy” throughout my entire life.  I had heard another song or two in recent years, but not much beyond that.  Before Reynolds’ book, I had regarded Bow Wow Wow as a one-hit wonder band and assumed that their history was bland and uninteresting as a result.  Oh, how wrong I was.

Malcolm McLaren is the impresario that managed the Sex Pistols.  Not only did he have a heavy hand in crafting their delinquent image, he sought ways to make them even more polarizing and repulsive to people.  I had been listening to the Sex Pistols since high school and I had always known Malcolm McLaren to be a provocateur which is a classier way of saying that he was a big wanker.  Until I read this book, I had no idea of far McLaren would go to be absolutely appalling.

I was amazed to learn that Bow Wow Wow was a McLaren creation much like the Sex Pistols.  The band was formed after McLaren encourage Adam and the Ants to ditch their front man and pursue his new music project.  Needing a charismatic and captivating lead singer, McLaren recruited the 14-year-old Annabella Lwin.

Initially, the band was put together to carry out McLaren’s vision that music was destined to be disposable background noise.  With the arrival of cassette technology, McLaren prophesized that role of music in the future would be removed of its purpose.  Before, people would gather in their homes or clubs to listen to music.  Now, with the introduction of the caseate and the rise of portable music, McLaren believed music would lose its importance and meaning.  To further this, Bow Wow Wow’s first album was initially a cassette only release that nearly tanked the band for having poor audio quality.

In addition to managing a band that would promote McLaren’s vision of music’s decline, he also sought a means to exploit rock’s baser instinct of tribalism and sex.  To achieve that, McLaren would coerce Lwin to be photographed nude or be subjected to sexual situations even going so far as encouraging one of the bandmates to deflower Lwin which McLaren believed was the reason why she was so resistant to his deranged and hypersexualized ideas.

McLaren’s fascination with exploiting child sexuality was exclusive to Lwin.  He had a whole grand vision to carry out his belief that pop music was pornography for children.  So, he set out to use pop music as a medium to use child pornography to titillate adults.  TO achieve this, the early Bow Wow Wow songs featured overtly sexual lyrics and Lwin was photographed nude for the band’s promo materials even appearing nude on their second album.

His provocative mindset extended beyond music and into other media.  McLaren wanted to create a children’s version of Playboy called Chicken which would be a publication featuring underage boys and girls engaging in pleasure technology.  While McLaren persisted that his Chicken publication was designed to be consumed by children interested in becoming adults that were different than their own parents, it is especially troubling considering “chicken” is a pedophile term for children.  Some even believed that Bow Wow Wow and Chicken were grand schemes by McLaren to implicate BBC and EMI as child smut peddlers.  While much of this material of Bow Wow Wow and the young Lwin were published, Chicken remains in the vaults.

You can imagine how surprised I was to learn about the history of Bow Wow Wow.  I had heard “I Want Candy” all my life.  It is a fun, catchy pop song.  However, knowing their background and especially McLaren’s manipulation of Lwin, the song carries a whole new subversive meaning that makes me a little ill.

Since reading that chapter, I’ve been exploring more of Bow Wow Wow’s short catalog.  Though they only released three studio albums, there is a lot of great material. For the last few years, I’ve really enjoyed “Do You Wanna Hold Me?”  The song is chaotic and absurd with allusions to California and a demonic Mickey Mouse being as big as a house.  It didn’t chart as well as “I Want Candy,” but it is one of their stronger tracks.  And given that it was recorded and released on their third and final studio album before breaking up, I would like to think that it was conceived on the tail end of whatever McLaren had planned for them.  I would like to be optimistic that, by this time, he was losing interest in the band and not interested in exploiting them as he had before.

“writin’ on the wall” – boscoe (1973)

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Like many people around the country, I’ve been upset by the violent events that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend.  When white supremacists, Neo-Nazis, and the Alt-Right descended upon the city to preach their own brand of hatred and bigotry, violence erupted resulting in many being injured and the death of three people including Heather Heyer.

Before the wounds of Charlottesville have even begun to heal, the painful feeling was only exacerbated by the President Donald Trump’s refusal to condemn the violence perpetrated by his supporters.  A few days after reading a half-assed generic statement from a teleprompter, he showed his true colors yesterday when he coined the term “Alt-Left” and refused to condemn the violent white supremacists at Charlottesville.  He cited that both sides were to blame and that he demanded he have all the facts before making any kind of statement.

The incident at Charlottesville had occurred 72 hours before his press conference yesterday, but Trump still insisted on not issuing a formal statement until he felt satisfied that he had all the facts.  Beyond what he did say about the (non-existent) “Alt-Left” going to the protest armed and without a permit, it is also troubling to consider what was not said.  Trump, the man who is currently holding the highest office in the country, did not sincerely vocalize any condemnation of his supporters for the chaos and madness they caused.

Trump’s psyche has not been hard to understand.  In his world, there is no “right” and no “wrong.”  His assessment about your value to him is only determined by how well you like him.  If you praise and support his actions and words, you are “good” and deserving of his respect and attention.  If you are critical of him, or simply did not vote for him, you are “bad.”

He has exemplified this view countless times, but yesterday’s press conference was the worst.  Reporters and members of the press were asking simple questions about Trump’s feelings about the Charlottesville violence.  During this, Trump pointed aggressively at them calling them fake, questioning their integrity and honesty as reporters and journalists, and made statements aligned himself with the violent rhetoric and actions of his reporters in Charlottesville.  By saying that both sides were to blame, he made a clear statement comparing violent Neo-Nazis to people who wish not to be hurt by violent Neo-Nazis.

The Charlottesville violence and death of Heather Heyer hit me so hard.  Since then, within the last few days, I still haven’t really found my balance yet.  Like many people, I couldn’t stop looking at the news.  Videos of fights and photos of armed racists were all over my social media feeds.  It was inescapable.  As I watched video footage of unknown militias marching, men holding shields with white nationalist imagery chanting “fuck you faggots,” and Neo-Nazis proudly wearing the swastika.

As I watched this, I felt a fear I hadn’t felt since the 9/11 attacks.  Our country has gone through some difficult times over the last 16 years.  However, at no point did I ever fear for my safety, the well-being of my friends and family, and the security of this country.  It is becoming increasingly difficult to be optimistic about where we are going.  And that is because I have no idea where this country is going.  Since Donald Trump’s election win last November, our state of affairs have steadily declined.  The threat of political violence is always present to the point where this insane discourse is becoming normalized.

The fear and anger I have felt since Saturday has put me in a place I do not like to be.  Reading through all the commentary and posts on social media, I got caught in the mire of the sickening depravity that is the Alt-Right’s social media presence.  I started engaging with white supremacists online shaming them for advocating additional violence and murder.  I knew you couldn’t reason with these people, so my goal was to call them out for their asinine behavior and holding them accountable.

I quickly realized how naïve that was.  By engaging with this scum, I had opened myself to receiving targeted threats of violence, death threats, called names aimed at my masculinity, and other targeted attacks.

Frankly, it was strange and fascinating.  I took their comments about committing murder and laughing at the death of Heather Heyer seriously, but I could not take the people behind those words seriously.  All of these disgusting people had one thing in common beyond their hateful rhetoric: they are all cowards who hide behind monikers and Pepe avatars.  They are afraid to show themselves as they spew their garbage.  They hide behind their racist frog meme as they call you faggot and make statements about how afraid you are to meet them.  Real tough talk coming from someone hiding behind a cartoon.

It got to a point where I found the exchanges fascinating and comical.  I would call out someone’s racism and that they were too afraid to show their true selves.  And the only thing that would happen is that they would send me some meme implying committing violence or murder against me or others.  Or that they would send their supporters from multiple states to come find me.  No matter how you looked at it, they were just losers throwing cartoons at me.  One even used my picture as their profile picture thus making me the representative face of their vitriol because they are too frightened to use their own.

These disgusting social media fiends are actually afraid.  They hide behind their memes out of fear of being “doxxed” (term to describe when a person’s identity and contact information has been discovered and shared).  When doxxed, their hatred is shown to their family, schools, and places of employment who will then respond appropriately.  These racists don’t want to lose their jobs or be expelled, so they use anonymity as their only weapon.

As I engaged further, I learned so much.  In addition to the psychology of these pathetic losers, I also learned some of their tactics they use to further spread hate.  In the spirit that these people are truly frightened of being discovered, I noticed that most of the users I engaged with would change their identities every day or two.  This included changing their profile picture, profile name, and social media handle in order to make it harder to trace their hateful rhetoric.  To do so properly, you would have to track them with databases and a lot of screenshots.  But, who has the time to follow racists assholes (besides me for the few days that I did).

When I got bogged down with this over the weekend, I spent a few days treading through their shit.  I didn’t care about the threats of attacks.  I was on a search and destroy mission.  My goal was to engage these people, discover who they were, and make them pay.  Now, I don’t know how to dox someone properly.  I’m not a hacker.  That’s how this stuff gets done.  But, I was able to find out who one of the guys was and called his university’s police to report the violent threats he was making in relation to the Charlottesville.

I tried to tell myself that taking down one of the people was worth it.  However, I know that isn’t the case.  Engaging with anonymous assholes on social media is the not an effective way to deal with what is happening right now.  We are all still healing from this weekend and processing what is happening.  Between the violent white supremacist gathering and Trump’s statements (or lack thereof), it is easy to get emotional and lost in confusion.

Never in a million years would I be telling myself in 2017 that this country needs to stand together to take down literal Nazis.  Trump and his administration has emboldened a movement with a specific agenda. An agenda that says that racial purity is required to make this country better.  And many of them want to achieve this through violence.

The most frustrating aspect of their movement is their quickness to play victim when it is convenient.  They will gather, carry tiki torches symbolizing torches and pitchforks, claim their white heritage gives them dominance over this land, and vocalize that any non-white people, homosexuals, and women should submit to their will.  However, stand up to them and they cower by claiming the legality of their actions.

They remind me of those kids who want to get a reaction out of someone by hovering their hands over the other person and saying “I’m not touching you. I’m not touching you. You can’t get mad because I’m not touching you!”  And the moment that you smack away their hand for invading their personal space, they cry and play the victim as they condemn you for your reaction.   So when these white supremacists gather to saying awful, violent things about non-white people and they are met with resistance, they cry that they were only gathering peacefully and that the antifas broke the law.  They say the resistance didn’t have a permit or that they are violating their freedom of speech.  They deflect, pass blame, and change the narrative to make sure, in their minds, that they are legally protected.  Their goal is to antagonize someone so much that their reaction can be spun to reflect their narrative, embolden their supporters, and gather centrist support who are too stupid to see the difference.

There can be no room for centrists.  If you are someone of sound body and mind watching the violence unfolding on your television or phone and you cannot tell the difference between those who advocate violence and those who wish to live free from violence, then you are a complete fucking moron that is ruining this country.  Much like the actual Nazis in the Third Reich, the Nazis in Charlottesville are trying to appeal to centrists.  Their movement, which started out as a fringe before picking up mainstream support, relies on recruiting people on the fence.  Before, they were too weak to take on the mainstream.  So, to gain strength, they rely on the stupid who cannot pick a side. Slowly one by one until they are now a force that must be dealt with seriously.

In 1973, Boscoe released their only studio album.  Initially only pressing 500 copies, their eponymous studio debut became a lost record of the South Side of Chicago’s rich culture of black music.  Such a profound musical statemen remained obscure until being reissued by Numero Group in 2007.  That is when I bought my copy.  A decade later after my purchase and 44 years after recording the album, the message remains as relevant today as ever.

“Writin’ On the Wall,” running over eight minutes, is a powerful condemnation to those who cannot see for themselves what is happening.  While the context of the recording in 1973 was about the passing of Malcom X, the message of black America struggling for peace still carries on.  As white supremacists battled against Black Lives Matters protestors and chanting for their death, it is so difficult for me to understand how someone cannot see the truth when it is right in front of them.  And for our political leaders to carry a message that “both sides” are responsible for our current violent discourse, it only makes the situation worse.

We’re still healing from Charlotte and I don’t know what to do.  As ready as I am to fight, I am also afraid of what the next day will bring.  And I feel that way because things will only get worse before they get better.  I know where I stand and my enemy knows where they stand, but people who stand in the middle silently are the ones who will shift the direction this nation will go.  And if they can’t see the writing on the wall, then goddamn them.

“a kind of loving” – the police (1982)

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If I had to make a top ten list of my favorite bands, the Police would definitely be on that list.  They were such a great band that managed to apply innovative and inventive techniques to New Wave and popular music.  I have trouble thinking of any bands that sounded liked them that managed to come close to the level of success they achieved critically and commercially.  They are also one of the few bands that
I defend as having never released a bad album.

Being a fan of the Police, however, I also think they are a misunderstood band.  I’ve been listening to them off and on for over a decade.  And every time I do, I discover more and more about the band.  I understand more of the subtleties of their playing and songwriting that I never picked up before.  However, there is one quality of the band I picked up on very early that has only intensified over the years.  A quality that I feel many people often overlook.  And that is the Police is a very dark, manic band.

For casual listeners, this might not be so obvious.  Sure, some of their biggest songs feature unsavory situations and characters.  “Roxanne” is about one man’s obsession with a prostitute and “Every Breath You Take” is typically regarded as a stalker’s anthem.  While those two songs are the most popular from the band’s catalogue, they only represent the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the band’s level of sinister songwriting when you explore further.

Even sticking with the other hits and singles, there are many songs that touch up on depravity, isolation, desperation, and fear.  One of their first singles from the band’s debut album Outlandos D’Amour, “Can’t Stop Losing You” is a song about a young man committing suicide because his girlfriend left him.  “Message in a Bottle,” from their sophomore release Reggatta De Blanc offers only a glimmer of hope as an isolated man realizes that everyone else is just as lonely.  “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da” features a catchy hook that sounds jovial, but you tend to forget that the chorus references rape.  And, on their final studio album, “Synchronicity II” is a brilliant song that, referring to the Jungian theory of synchronicity, tells the story of an emasculated husband who lives a depressing and unfulfilling life.  And these are only examples of songs that were released as singles.  Imagine what was left on the albums.

The characters who experience these feelings of loneliness and anger are men who have been denied or removed from power.  Their stereotypical gender role has been dismantled and they are left confused and often violent.  The loss of authority, or even superiority, is too much to bear so they rely on more baser instincts to assert whatever dominance they feel they have.  Men in these songs represent a toxic masculinity and the extent that some will go to restore a gender balance.  The scenarios may be different, but the conflict is apparent as the narrative unfolds; unhinged and deranged men acting being violent or reactionary out of fear.  Here are a few examples:

  • “On Any Other Day” – a husband has a crisis and fights against a breakdown as his family disrespects his role such as his wife having an affair and his son coming out as gay
  • “The Bed’s Too Big Without You” – a man’s female partner has left him after committing a mistake, so he cries himself to sleep while humping his pillow
  • “Does Everyone Stare” – a man with no confidence tries to ask out a woman despite his crippling anxiety and poor self-image
  • “Voices Inside My Head” – a man haunted the words of an assumed former lover
  • “Shadows in the Rain” – a man losing his grip on reality
  • “Darkness” – a man stays inside his dark room wishing life would be easy and boring again
  • “Mother” – a man is angry that his mother won’t stop calling him and it is driving him insane
  • “Tea in the Sahara” – based on the novel The Sheltering Sky, three women are left to die in the desert after being told a prince would come save them
  • “Murder by Numbers” – a darkly comic look at the art of murder
  • “Once Upon a Daydream” – a young man murders his lovers father

With only five studio albums released within a six-year period, the Police’s discography is remarkably short considering their popularity and influence.  However, despite the small discography, they managed to put out a lot of haunting material.  However dark those songs are, none of them come close to the material they didn’t put on their albums.

When I was in college, I bought a four-disc box set of their recordings called Message in a Box.  Released in 1993, it boasted that the set contained every commercially released track by the Police up to the point (though later research would reveal that a few tracks were overlooked).  In addition to the studio albums, included were songs released as one-off singles, live cuts from Urgh! A Music War, and soundtrack contributions.  It is through that set that I heard the darkest and most violent song the Police ever recorded.

“A Kind of Loving” was one of three tracks the Police contributed to the 1982 film adaptation of Brimstone & Treacle.  Based on a stage play, the film is about a married couple caring for their daughter who was disabled after a hit-and-run.  One day, the father meets a young maned named Martin (portrayed by Sting).  Martin’s identity and background is a mystery, but he manages to convince the father to allow him to care for his daughter.  The father, though uneasy about the offer, agrees in order to get some time away from the daunting schedule of caring for a young daughter.  While under his care, Martin rapes the young girl.  It is later when Martin attempts to rape her a second time that the daughter screams and is cured of his disability.

In addition to Sting playing the villain in the film, he also contributed a lot of solo material to the film’s soundtrack.  Other bands contributed tracks including Squeeze and the Go-Go’s.  However, none of their songs come close to matching the horrifying listening experience that “A Kind of Loving” offers.

Just over two minutes, “A Kind of Loving” immediately starts with an explosion of noise and pain.  A heavy guitar track play throughout the entirety of the song and is paired with the sounds of a young woman screaming in pain.  At various parts in the song, Sting comes in and shouts obscenities at the women calling her horrible names and demanding that she shut up.  The young woman’s cries of pain ebb and flow in volume throughout the song, but the terror conveyed is constant and disturbing.  Relatively short for a song, that two minutes seems to go on forever.

I have yet to see Brimstone & Treacle or even read the play that the movie was based on.  Being an obscure and limited British release, the film is hard to find in the United States.  I do, however, own the soundtrack on vinyl because it is a solid album overall.  However, I’m not sure I really want to see the film.  I may at some point, but I’m in no rush.  The track “A Kind of Loving” is so jarring that I imagine there is little to nothing artistically I could gain from seeing whatever scene that song scores.  It isn’t even a song I seek out to enjoy as part of a listening experience.  It just comes on whenever I put on that particular Police disc and let it play out.

I love the Police and I go through phases where I listen to their music frequently.  And every time, I forget just how dark the band is.  Sting used to teach English classes and is an avid reader.  It is easy to understand how his love of literature would carry over into his songwriting.  I wonder every time where Sting draws his inspiration from and how he perceives the toxic men he writes about.  I would like to know where they come from and what they mean.  Often, these men face some cruel fate that can only be described as poetic justice.  However, I wonder if there is something deeper there.

“boys (summertime love)” – sabrina (1987)

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It is now August which means Chicago’s dog days of summer are in full swing.  This is when the city sees it’s hottest days and most epic thunderstorms.  These days are also the best time to go to the beach as Lake Michigan will have adequately warmed up enough to be comfortable.  Patio season for brunch reaches its peak and everyone crams in as much fun before school goes back into session and the temperatures start slowly falling into the crispness of fall.

I have stayed really busy during this summer.  For one, I’ve been playing in a softball league on behalf of the radio station I volunteer with and playing against other media outlets in the city.  I had never joined a league before and had a great time, so I am looking forward to more games next year.  I also go for longer walks and find the best places to read outside; neat park spots with lots of character that are otherwise miserable during the winter time.

There is just so much to do.  I am a busy individual between work, volunteering, errands, and everything else that a big city life demands.  I always look towards summer for things to slow down a bit.  However, the opposite happens.  I get even more busy.  And the reason why is that Chicago summers are way too short.  I feel like I must cram in as much as possible so I don’t feel like I’m taking the fleeting summer days for granted.

To get my going, I spend the late spring putting together an annual summer playlist for me to jam to.  This playlist should be a combination of songs that pump me up, motivate me, are great to dance to, and just breathe life into summer.  While the songs change from year to year, there are a few stalwarts that have made multiple appearance over the years as some of my favorite summer jams.

High up on the list of my favorite summer jam is a catchy Italo disco track by Sabrina Salerno called “Boys (Summertime Love)”.  Released in 1987, it has become Sabrina’s most famous song.  The fame behind the song owes a lot to its own video.  In the video, Sabrina splashes around an Italian hotel pool while her bikini top repeatedly falls down throughout the video.  Needless to say, much of the video’s popularity comes from this.  The video was created for a segment to be included in an Italian magazine show.  This explains why the video is more overtly sexual than typical music videos that would have aired on MTV at the time.

When talking about this song, you have to address the video.  It is all kinds of ridiculous and fun.  It is what contributed to the song’s success.  However, the song’s charm and true appeal shines through in the music.  This Hi-NRG track is highly energetic and impossible to not dance to.  The backing track rhythms are prominent and drives the song.  Sabrina’s vocals are also on point in the song.  Her cute accent is endearing.  You actually concentrate on the vocals because it takes a little extra effort to understand what she is saying through the song.  But doing so, you can hear Sabrina’s talent shine through by giving it the attention it deserves.

I do not remember how I came across this song.  It was around five years ago and probably the product of me going down a YouTube rabbit hole.  Usually, I’ll be amused by what I find during those rabbit hole journeys.  But, I’ll quickly forget about what I saw.  That hasn’t been the case with Sabrina’s iconic track.  It has stayed with me to be one of the finest summer anthems I know.  While the song reached number one in several countries, it didn’t make a splash in the United States.  So, I take every opportunity to celebrate and share this song with friends.  While Italo disco may sound quaint to some considering all the modern electronic dance music that sends vibrating shockwaves throughout your body, there is true appeal in the song for its energy and message; just dance, enjoy summer, and have a summer romance.  What is not to love about that?  Until Sabrina gets the respect she deserves from mainstream American listeners, she will always have a spot in my annual summer jam playlist.