Review 2012: The Projects:
Mystery Music March.

Music  Over a year after Forgotten Films, Mystery Music March was my attempt (in 2008) to force myself to write about music, not something I'd ever been comfortable with.  I'm still not.  When was the last time this blog carried a music review of any kind?  Unlike the previous blogcapade, this was ultimately even more autobiographical and the culture under consideration mostly available.  Which is why I've gone through and updated these old posts with illustrative YouTube clips of nearly everything.

41 Original Hits from the Soundtrack of American Graffiti
Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony
Carla Bruni’s quelqu'un m'a dit
The Doctor Who Theme – David Arnold
Bold Street – Eugene McGuiness
Funny How -- Airhead
Godspeed You Black Emperor's Raise Yr Skinny Fists To Heaven
The Elements – Tom Lehrer
I’m Like A Bird – Nelly Furtado
The 59th Bridge Street Song (Feeling Groovy) – Woodstock
Intro / Tokyo -- Richard Beggs
Me To Be – I Am The World Trade Center
BBC Music Magazine
Once More With Feeling – The Cast of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer
The Rough Guides To World Music
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised – Gil Scott-Heron
Losing My Religion – Tori Amos
Qui-Gon's Noble End – John Williams
Imperial Bedroom -- Elvis Costello and The Attractions
Supermarioland -- Ambassadors Of Funk Featuring M.C. Mario
The JCB Song – Nizpoli
Plays The Music of Oasis – The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Video Killed The Radio Star – Buggles
Zadok The Priest -- George Frideric Handel
What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
Guilty Pleasures
Answer Machine Message (Baby Call Me Back) -- Britney Spears
By The Sea – Roosta
The 'Internet'
God Be With You Till We Meet Again – Ralph Vaughn Williams
Thank You -- Dido

Perhaps one of the most interesting isn't directly about music.  In the post, I condescendingly include a scan of an old BBC Music Magazine article about the dawn of the internet as an illustration of how far we'd come.  Ironically, two of applications mentioned underneath would be superseded by Spotify just a few years later, the Wired blog was shut down and the other posts far less than it used to.

Not long after I completed Mystery Music March, which due to illness was some time that May (!), on a visit to Vinyl Exchange in Manchester, I stumbled upon a promo copy of Scarlett Johansson's album Anywhere I Lay My Head.  Having noted the richness of her singing voice in her cover of Summertime a few years before, I was looking forward to more of the same.

Anywhere I Lay My Head disappointed me.  Her register seemed an octave too low, the content of the songs was, I thought, too maudlin, and not really understanding the music of Tom Waits then, decided it just wasn't my sort of thing.  So I put it in a drawer and forgot about it for the next four years.  Four years is a surprisingly long time.  Four years in my case is the difference between being in my early thirties and late thirties.

Four years is long enough to realise what I've been missing.  Over the past month, along with a bunch of Christmas music, my mp3 player's been filled with curiosities, albums which I've not listened to for some time if barely at all and so threaded through Chrissie Hynde and Wizzard have been Johannson's what I now realise, magical, lustrous cover versions of Tom Wait's songs.

Now it's one of my favourite albums.  Scarlett's voice is low, wrecked almost (see above) with that slightly tuneless Dylan quality, but there's a poignancy to the way they're communicated, especially with the multi-layered production filled with uncommon sounds and percussive experimentation.  It's all the more extraordinary because of its very concept, however potentially vanity driven, of Scarlett Johansson singing the songs of Tom Waits.

Waits himself turns up in a couple of tracks, notably the finale Who Are You in which Scarlett, having apparently tried her best throughout seems to finally find Tom's trademark growl, amid synthesised noodlings from the band including what sounds like one of the basic rhythm selections from a Bontempi.  All of which sounds utterly bonkers, and it is, especially when you consider that this is the actress who played the female lead in one of the biggest films of this year.

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