Labyrinth, New Age Whales, and Alabama Lyrics

So, I was on my way to work when the David Bowie songfest kicked in on Monday. I kinda wondered what was up, since the AM crew on that station tends to do more recent music before 10:00 AM (recent being 80s and early 90s). Then it was announced during the news break that Bowie had died. As I got ready for class, I was reciting the opening to “Dance Magic Dance” from Labyrinth under my breath and wondering if any of my students had ever seen it. It is possible, although this year it is (arrrrrgh!!!) 30 years old.

You know, as an aside, watching that film as an adult, you catch a lot of spooky and funny stuff that younger-me missed.

Anyway, so I tucked that particular ear-worm back into its cubby as I worked through the rest of the day, including outlining the next Colplatschki novel. Then I went to the dentist. While waiting, I thumbed through Southern Living, which has improved but not enough for me to go back to reading it. The back page was an essay by Rick Bragg about Country Music, and how you no longer hear the people and their history in the lyrics. He quoted Alabama’s ballad, “Song of the South” as an example of the old-school, story-driven country music. I grew up on ballads ancient and modern, and found myself nodding along with his complaint as well as hearing the song in my head. Alabama got me through a rough patch when I worked in the northern Midwest, and I have a little spot in my heart for some of their songs. I always shake my head when someone on YouTube flags the song for “objectionable content.” It’s about a family that were able to work their way out of debt because of the Tennessee Valley Project. Which indeed, like a whole bunch of other NRA/WPA/PWA/AAA programs discriminated against Blacks, Indians, and Latinos, depending on where you were, but I don’t think that’s what the complainer was complaining about. It’s a little song about hard-scrabble people trying to hang on in tough times, and how things change for the better. “Daddy took a job with the TVA/ Got a washing machine and a Chevrolet.”

Then the hygenist called me back. The dentist’s staff prefer light Christian rock and other elevator pop on the sounds system. Occasionally there is Celt-age, as I refer to Celtic-influenced electronic music. This time, as I was not-exactly dozing while the tech scrubbed at my teeth, I heard a voice not unlike mine singing “She moved through the Fair.” Although the gal in that recording did not make the common mistake you hear on this version: it is “kine,” not “kind.”

Not bad, and better than some of what had been on earlier. Then the sound faded out, returning with a very New Age instrumental meditation piece. I was back in High School, hunkered down in my room on Sunday night listening to Musical Starstreams and Music from the Hearts of Space, writing depressing poems and bad sci-fi Mary-Sue goo. (Which has been burned. Don’t bother looking for any of it.) I would have been a great Goth, had my parents allowed me to wear black. The only thing missing from the music was whale noise.

Like that, but more bass. I used to know all the different New Age performers and such, now? Nah. Black metal and classical, which probably explains a lot. Moving on . . .

What’s intriguing is how closely linked music and memory can become, almost as tight as scent and memory. I suspect it is not true for everyone, because I’ve been immersed in music of all flavors since I was in the womb, but my mind tightly binds melody, lyric, place, and time. At best it is pleasant or amusing. At worst, it brings up what I was trying to escape.

‘Twas an interesting set of Monday interludes. And I passed the tooth inspection. This time.



4 thoughts on “Labyrinth, New Age Whales, and Alabama Lyrics

  1. “Dance Magic Dance” was fairly often played at a (Second Life) Goth club I used to frequent/lurk in when it still existed. (The owner once declared me “The least creepy person here.” which still amuses me.)

    $HOUSEMATE once worked for place that handled Really Big Disk Backup. One place $HOUSEMATE wound up to see an inaitial backup on a new system worked right was… Muzak. The Muzak facility has music ‘piped in’ to all rooms – almost. Each room or hallway with its own genre or such. There was only one place that was silent. No, not the restroom(s). The elevator. They HATE that reputation, so.. silence there.

    • I think it was a hospital, or maybe a university – some large institution, where the background sound in the restroom was New Age ocean music. Always, according to the local I was with.

    • Now I have this mental image of a large ox (black) with a glam-goth or vintage-goth plowing harness looking out at the dance floor while chatting with the manager in a corner of the bar . . .

      • SL was stranger than that, even. From some (scavenger type) hunt, I’d acquired a set of gargoyle-ish wings and there was setup that allowed one to pose on the ceiling, upside down, bat-like. (“When we hang around, it’s upside down.” is part of the lyrics to one tune…) And that spot kept me out of the way when I wasn’t right at the keyboard to interact, but lurking and reading backscroll later. A time or three of that and the name “batmoo” was coined. Now, I must say that your image does indeed fit things better. SL is.. decidedly not RL. And for this place, vintage would have been more likely.

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