Hot Tub Music Loop

The most amazing thing happened to me the other day. I finally figured out a song and, by extension, another song that I’ve been trying to find the name of for OVER 15 YEARS! It happened at my new job, of all places, and now granted, it is a spa, so of course I’m going to hear a lot of soft, relaxing, ambient music, but I was not expecting this.

The song is “Wings to Altair” by David Lanz. It turns out that David Lanz is a name in the New Age scene. In this interview, he talks about New Age’s origins, his style and techniques as a composer. Fascinating stuff that gave me a new view of both the song and the genre. Like, take this:

Ok… let me try and set the stage here. This was at first, a more underground musical movement in Japan, Europe and in the US (primarily on the West Coast). Both electronic, starting with groups like Tangerine Dream back in the ’70s, Kitaro and before him Tomita in Japan, and of course the mostly acoustic music from Windham Hill in Southern California. Artists like pianist George Winston and guitarist Will Ackerman… deemed “hot tub music” 🙂

At the same time, there was a growing interest in yoga, eastern religions, meditation and boomers looking for a different way to relate to high-stress lifestyles. Listening to a more relaxing, at times experimental music which had elements of folk, jazz, Eastern classical music and even nature sounds, started to become more common.

Much of this music was instrumental, non-threatening, not like hardcore jazz might have been viewed, and it filled the space soft rock was also occupying at the time. At first, this was not mainstream, and pretty much under the radar, so to speak.

I love it, “hot tub music.”

It’s mainly a particular part of the song that first got me hooked. I heard it on a hip hop/experimental beats mixtape from a friend back when I was at KCSB. He pointed out the part at 0:44 into “Wings of Altair,” and asked where this sample came from. I didn’t know, but the song itself left an impression on me.

So “Wings of Altair” is the sample. Using Whosampled, I figured out the hip hop group and track that featured it. This bad ass song called, “Sexual for Elizabeth” by Five Deez. Give a listen.

Five Deez stands for “five dimensions” because you listen to music in five dimensions. I learned that from a great interview I found with the Five Deez members, when searching for background on “Sexual for Elizabeth”. It’s such a dope song, that takes an unexpected turn towards the end with a cool jazzy keyboard and an appearance by Shing02, who raps in Japanese at around 3:25 and on. By the way, if you’re in an interview mood, here’s a little one with Shing02.

I’d only ever heard the instrumental for “Sexual for Elizabeth”, and hadn’t heard the full song, much less with lyrics. When you hear the full track – whether of the originally sampled song or the reinterpretation – it’s fun to hear what the DJ edited it down to.

Who knows why things like these songs stay with us looping over and over. Sometimes, for me it’s words at a time from one song blending into the next and I forget the origins of either until I can’t not hear the mixing of the two. I don’t know why I got fixated on knowing this information. I do think I hear the song differently every time I read more and listen again.

Oh, a little post script note that in writing this – I ended up finding a remix of “Sexual for Elizabeth” in getting the links set up for this post by Prefuse 73 – who I love. I have yet to hear this version so far…

 

go-to song

my go-to song on play

volume up

don’t care how often i play it

because it’s never enough

song will always go

and i have no favorite part

because it is all my favorite 

i listen and i am whole again

there is no other music

song makes me look to the heavens

question my sanity

my sobriety 

my reality

until i realize that none of that matters

because song is what it is

i hear a new lyric every time i listen

even though i know it

by heart

i can anticipate its groove 

and enjoy where it takes me

look around to the world that isn’t so bad 

sometimes 

even when it can be pretty bad

sometimes 

i remember this when i have nothing

which is always

we always have nothing 

but you can enjoy a moment every now and again

that is an element that is in this song

as everything is

and the timbre of the music swirls around

until there is no escape from what music brings

song is a different world 

that i can’t begin to comprehend 

when the lights go dark, i dance

This is June Bug. She puts on lipstick in the rear view window of her car as she sits outside a club with thumping bass. Dark red looks like velvet. Tastes like plastic wax. 

June Bug looks at groups of people frolic into the club. Stroll in seemingly casually. And she feels an affinity with them all — the excitement of a new place. The need to quell the nervous jitters. The darting eyes. The indecision. June Bug knows all this. She feels it all but she’s not a part of any group. 

She’s there alone. And it wouldn’t matter if her outfit attracted the most attention or the least. If she were done up or not. She is there alone. No group. No one she’s specifically meeting.

Unless you consider the music and maybe the closest thing to the music, The DJ. June Bug follows the music. Drifts her way through the crowd to the front of the stage so she can do what she was born to do.

Purple lights cross with lime green. Orange and blue sparkles collide spinning, surrounding her. Music knows how to move her body. She just lets go and follows through. It’s not hard. Just listen. It will tell you everything you want to know and make you the happiest you’be ever been.

The people begin to notice. June Bug keeps dancing. 

June Bug always dances.

To any and all. The unsung music of the heart.

June Bug always dances. 

post-it poem

I’ve been diligently working to *have* inspiration (as if you can really have it, it just comes…), but nada. 

You know, write these little plays or moments to share. 

Something new. 

Anyway, I had some great ideas, but nothing that really grabbed me and was like, “no, we’re not leaving until you wtite us down”. 
But then I started composing these little poems in my mind, these little strings of words together in my head and going to myseld, “oh hey, that’s pretty good, I like how that sounds or how it makes me feel”. I was about to write one down when another snuck up on me!

I had this song in my head and didn’t remember the name, only that there was a chance I’d sorted it into one of my Spotify folders. Sure enough, there it was. Btw, if you get a chance to watch the video (which I just saw for the first time just now), isn’t that strange and beautiful?

Anyway, I find the song and something tells me to grab a post-it and a pen. Then, poem.

  
 
It says…

Back in the days

we used to play by ocean breeze

Tree leaves woven in my hair

Do you remember the time we sat and laughed?

It wasn’t long ago…

So there’s a little something for today.

I have to chuckle after I read it over again because you can tell I’m a DJ at heart and get all these songs in my head and with words like “Back in the days” (or this one!) and “do you remember the time?” 

It makes me think of the different songs and words I’ve heard before and make connections. But I also think of the music and the melodies. They are what bring me from one place to another. It takes me longer to learn the words. And so who knows, there’s probably other stuff in the poem above that I haven’t realized are song lyrics from another time when I listened to it before.

Here you go! 

Oh, and here’s one more song that’s been on my mind lately…

Play List

Mini play list for you all riffing of the song obsessions post.

So, of course (again)

This and this.

Here are a couple of other songs that I was feeling when I wrote i stole lance armstrong’s bike

Wild Horses – this is not the original, but I like her voice and that drifty, far-off quality is more like the mood of my play. Though, Rolling Stones, I mean, come on. This is a great song.

Some Velvet Morning

You getting the idea that this play is a modern western? There’s lots of landscape and expansiveness. 

Also, Pat Parra did the music for the first reading back in 2010. I’ll see if I still have those recordings somewhere, but until then, here’s one of his tracks with a music video directed by his brother who is a filmmaker, Danilo Parra.

This one has not much to do with the above songs and is just a song I like (but probably also more related to a different play for a future post)

The Man Who Sold The World

I have song obsessions. This is one of them.

This song relates to i stole lance armstrong’s bike in that it was the impetus for the whole play. I will share that next, but first, a really long digression… 

I warned you.

Of course, I felt tremendously sad to hear the news of David Bowie. A friend put it best – and I’m paraphrasing but she said whenever there was a report of another celebrity death in the back of her mind she’d go, “Please not David Bowie.” I could relate to that.

You know, sometimes you think the stars are going to go out with a bang – and sometimes they do, but I think it’s equally as sad when the page just turns and poof, they’re gone… Like, “Bowie? Oh, yeah, he’s not here any more.” Well, that sucks. Not that things and people and places can last forever, but you know…

When I was first starting to get into collecting records, I found Ziggy Stardust in a dusty dollar bin underneath the main stacks at this record store, Streetlight, in San Jose. I didn’t know what it was or really anything about David Bowie at that point except for The Labyrinth – which is another obsession from back when I was a little kid. I listened to the album and over and over again. I guess I was in my late teens or something.

It’s funny because though this post is about song obsessions and about the beginnings of i stole lance armstrong’s bike specifically, I could actually weave this song into my other work too.

In my punk play, a character is introducing a song and says something along the lines of, “I was about to tell you that I wrote this song during a very difficult time in my life, but then, when have times ever been easy?”

That is a quintessential feeling I get from listening to The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars and Low. And that is who David Bowie is to me. I was depressed and listening to David Bowie’s music often moved me through those feelings. 

So, yeah, this song, I’m obsessed with. I love it when Bowie sings it and I love it when Kurt Cobain sings it.

For me, song obsession is kinda like this– I’m modifying a little what the character Biz said in a play I wrote, It’s All In The Mix.

BIZ: I just thought of this song. I knew I’d have to play it at some point during the day. I mean, really, I’m probably gonna have to play this song a couple more times before I feel past it. And that’s the thing too cuz I could be playing this for weeks. Or months. Finding a way to work it into every mixtape, every time I play a club or party… Cuz if I got really obsessed with it, I’d be trying to figure out a way to work it intoeverything I do. I’d be with my friends like “(David Bowie) is the shit!” Just claiming it, I’d know that’s it. That feeling. The song. It’d be me by then. My motto for life…

The Man Who Sold The World…

Sometimes in generative writing workshops, the instructor will ask you to think of what your play sounds or tastes or smells like. Like my first playwriting teacher, Naomi Iizuka, would say this and you would free write for a while with just whatever popped. I started with a desk, a desire to write something new, an idea about a bike theft, and this song.

I played this song and it would run out so I’d play it some more. And then, I’d play another version. 

A monologue resulted, but more than that, I could see, feel, and touch the world of my play within my mind. And I knee exactly how it would feel to be in that space at that time with those people.

This monologue was first and I kept on writing around it, completely or mostly out of order. It was more or less the equivalent of a sketch when I passed it onto another teacher, Octavio Solis, who asked how I wrote it. I said that I just wrote it as it came to me. He said “what if you put it in order?” Huh! I hadn’t thought of that.

So, I did. And this monologue which was first, and was originally a letter, moved to the middle. I’ve edited and shaped it a bit along with everything else.

But the songs…

Okay, so have you seen these live versions?

I personally prefer these acoustic ones – one sung by David Bowie and the other by Kurt Cobain.

And so recently I’ve been thinking that maybe I will sing songs for people. Live. But for realsies, not just karaoke. And maybe I will do my version of this song. Of course, I would like create my own music too. Like if I made an opera it would sound like that harmonizing haunting part at the end.

 I can’t seem to find any good versions by female singers, except for this one with a theramin. So maybe I should create what I want to see and experience. I think I’d aim for more like those acoustic ones above though. And that definitely feels like the spirit of i stole lance armstrong’s bike

Oh, this one is really interesting too. Dark, kinda like a sci-fi noir film soundtrack or something. It would have really gone well with this radio show I used to have called Miz Scarlet in the Lounge with the Turntables. 

And there’s this epic on on SNL with Klaus Nomi. They used to have the whole version up, but this one with the intro and frame will have to do.

So now, the monologue from i stole lance armstrong’s bike.

I don’t know why this song illicited this monologue, but it did, so I’m going with it. Even though now the song reminds me more about this recent writing than it does angst. Says on wikipedia that the song was alluding to multiple identies, but I thought it was just a memory of a person from another lifetime. 

But isn’t this interesting?

“I guess I wrote it because there was a part of myself that I was looking for. Maybe now that I feel more comfortable with the way that I live my life and my mental state (laughs) and my spiritual state whatever, maybe I feel there’s some kind of unity now. That song for me always exemplified kind of how you feel when you’re young, when you know that there’s a piece of yourself that you haven’t really put together yet. You have this great searching, this great need to find out who you really are.” — David Bowie

This monologue is towards the middle. They’ve met this busker they call Joe Schmoe. And there’s this sort of power/attraction triangle going on. Like I said, originally this was a letter she sent to another character who was never in the play. So I played with it more in the editing process.
JAMIE:

I can’t take the despair anymore. It’s too much and it’s enveloping me like a snake. I can feel it coiling around my body my stomach and my throat and I have nowhere else to turn. How else to get out of this 4 by 4 space with her there judging every move every thought every action turns into something I regret. How do I get out of this place?  

We’re in the desert now making our way back to civilization and time seems to be speeding up infinitesimally exponentially. It’s growing without end. I see no end in sight. She looks at me waiting for me to break. I look back defying that will. I will not break, you see. That’s something she doesn’t see. 

I could never understand what she wanted with it. Why travel this far. Why not ditch it? At anytime we could and she holds onto it. Holds it over me. I can’t take it anymore. She’s getting to me. I’m starting to think that maybe I’m crazy or that maybe she is. I’m not sure which one of us is right. So maybe it means we both aren’t.

Behold me, Ella. I am the carrier of the wind of change. I will be here and propel myself in front of the car Ella drives with Lance Armstrong’s bike in the back seat tire sticking out the window. I am the change that she didn’t see coming. I will force my way out of this trap. This cage. This prison. She doesn’t realize what a power she’s messing with. But I know. You know, you’ve seen it. And could vouch for me if I needed you to, right?

I’m open. At your beckon call. Without you I’d go blind.

*****