Wednesday, November 25, 2009

T Party Express: Rockin' the Climategate Scandal

We at the T Party Express - meaning moi - might be preoccupied with prepping for our Turkey Day feast tomorrow. But I'm never to busy to blog a storm as potentially damaging as the Climategate scandal. Hackers broke into confidential emails generated by the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit, an organization that promotes global warming policies based on knowingly faulty data.

The Herald Sun in Australia published excerpts from hacked "emails suggesting conspiracy, collusion in exaggerating warming data, possibly illegal destruction of embarrassing information, organised resistance to disclosure, manipulation of data, private admissions of flaws in their public claims and much more. If it is as it now seems, never again will 'peer review' be used to shout down sceptics."

Weather has been employed by songwriters and other poets as a metaphor for changeable romantic conditions - and their approach is just as subjective, arbitrary and emotional as the aforementioned tactics of the manipulative climate change scientists. At least songwriters are generally less inclined to insist that their opinions are indisputable facts - except for the voluble few who prefer the soapbox to the stage.

I heart Neil Finn like few other modern day musicians. He followed older brother Tim into the charmingly ironic and iconic 1980s band Split Enz and soon eclipsed his sibling. Then Tim joined Neil's nearly incomparable quartet-turned-trio-turned quartet, Crowded House, to collaborate on their superlative third album, Woodface, that spawned the single Weather with You.

Always remember and never forget these lyrics: everywhere you go, you always take the weather with you. It's your choice if you rain on somebody else's corn flakes. This video features the brothers Finn backed by drummer Paul Hester, who supported them in Split Enz and Crowded House. Hester was an incorrigible joker who hid the tears of a clown. He hanged himself in a park near his home in 2005.

Another prodigiously gifted yet insufficiently heralded singer-songwriter is Lloyd Cole. I always thought he resembled a younger Tim Finn, but his moody music was more like a folkier guitar-driven take on Jimmy Webb. The lead guitarist is Robert Quine who earned his legend playing with Richard Hell & the Voidoids and Lou Reed. I still don't understand why No Blue Skies wasn't a monster hit. The label won't let me embed the official video, which you can view here, but below is a live version fairly faithful to the recording.

As a bonus, I'm posting the infamous video of Chris Isaak's Wicked Game, which was a contemporary sound-alike of No Blue Skies. Cole's tune was released the year after Wicked Game but actually charted before David Lynch's film Wild at Heart relaunched Wicked Game as Isaak's breakthrough hit. Both songs soar on atmospheric guitar lines that flirt with flat notes in a surprisingly appealing way.

This video always frustrated me a little. Chris Isaak never wavered from his focus on Helena Christensen, but she was way more into the camera than into him. I know which of the two I would choose. Chris Isaak and I were born the same summer, but he is aging beautifully. Back in the early 1990s, my girlfriends and I concert-stalked him, but darned if he wasn't a repeat no-show. We concluded that Chris Isaak is merely a TV and film character and there is no one cool enough to play him in real life.

I saved the best message for last. Eva Cassidy, another underappreciated singer-songwriter, died of cancer in 1996 at the age of 36. She excelled at every genre she attempted, including the 1926 American classic by Irving Berlin, Blue Skies. I hope you will take the undeniably hopeful lyrics set to a deceptively forlorn melody to heart. I do. If you are so inclined, remember to thank He who created the weather and is the only power who can destroy the planet.

I was blue, just as blue as I could be
Ev'ry day was a cloudy day for me
Then good luck came a-knocking at my door
Skies were gray but they're not gray anymore

Blue skies
Smiling at me
Nothing but blue skies
Do I see

Singing a song
Nothing but bluebirds
All day long

Never saw the sun shining so bright
Never saw things going so right
Noticing the days hurrying by
When you're in love, my how they fly

Blue days
All of them gone
Nothing but blue skies
From now on

I should care if the wind blows east or west
I should fret if the worst looks like the best
I should mind if they say it can't be true
I should smile, that's exactly what I do

Previous stops:

What a Wonderful World by Eva Cassidy and Katie Melua (2008).

Pick Yourself Up by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers (1936).

Special by Garbage (1998).

The Whole of the Moon by the Waterboys (1985).

Empty Me by Chris Sligh (2008).

So Long Self by Mercy Me (2006).

Here's Where the Story Ends by the Sundays (1990).

Broken by Lighthouse (2009).

God Shaped Hole by Plumb (1999).

The Thrill Is Gone by B.B. King (1970).

Love and Regret by Deacon Blue (1989).

Real Gone Kid by Deacon Blue (1989).

My Book by the Beautiful South (1990).

A Little Time by the Beautiful South (1990).

Your Ex-Lover Is Dead by Stars (2005).

This Woman's Work by Kate Bush (1989).

Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division (1980).

Reptile by the Church (1988).

Accidents Will Happen by Elvis Costello (1979).

Tears Run Rings by Marc Almond (1987).

Killing Moon by Echo and the Bunnymen (1984).

Love Lies Bleeding by Elton John (1973).

Last Time Forever by Squeeze (1985).

Conjure Me by the Afghan Whigs (1992).

Debonair by the Afghan Whigs (1993).

Hallelujah by Jason Castro (2009).

Total Recall by the Sound (1985).

Fly by Jars of Clay (2002).

Train in Vain by the Clash (1980).

It's My Life by Talk Talk (1984).

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