The English language is an interesting thing; a living, changing entity, affected by intonation as well as attitude. Words and phrases can be defined or interpreted in completely different ways, depending on what kind of mood we are in.
Words on a page take on a whole new light when they are read aloud. Much of the nuance is lost in e-mails and texts, especially sarcasm, which I often find requires explanation after someone takes a message the wrong way.
But so many words have multiple meanings, some even completely opposite of each other. Like the word “down.” My on-line dictionary has over 30 definitions and uses for it. It can be maddening. I am not quite sure how people learn English… although obviously, like with any language or culture, there are subtleties that take a lifetime or at least total immersion, to fully comprehend.
Perhaps the way we think of certain words is also a clear understanding of areas we need to work on in life. This title is a perfect example. I believe it was a search for Billy Bragg and Wilco (talked about in this blog earlier) that led me to The Minus 5. When I first saw this title, my mind immediately went to DOWN with Wilco… as if they were some band of bastards that needed to be knocked down a peg. That is rather negative. Wow. Is this where my brain immediately goes? Clearly I need to see the Dalai Lama again.
What the title in fact means is down with Wilco… like getting down… hanging out… playing music together. It’s a good thing.
Shame on me for immediately seeing that glass half full.
Clarity in language is essential to clear communication and the right word will give us a very thorough understanding of what someone is trying to express. But to quote myself , “a word can paint a million pictures.” When I say the word “dog” we will each have a specific image, unique and as individual as ourselves. “Words, words, words…”
The Minus 5 – Down With Wilco
Scott McCaughey uses words well. His lyrics and music are funny and witty and. Finding this artist opened up a whole world of new music. I went back to his first band, the Replacements-influenced Young Fresh Fellows… The Men Who Loved Music is fantastic. And I discovered his newest, The Baseball Project with Peter Buck of R.E.M., Steve Wynn and Linda Pitmon. More great stuff!
The Minus 5 is what is called a “Pop Collective” or a Pop or Rock Collaborative or Collaboration, meaning the band’s lineup changes from album to album. I would include the amazing and Canadian Broken Social Scene and Neverending White Lights to this sub genre. Both of these are must hears!
Down With Wilco, like the equally enjoyable “The Gun Album” and Killingsworth is rooted in the alt. country vein (although perhaps not as strongly as the latter two); but it mostly has the Spector Wall of Sound… 60s Beatles and Beach Boys influences and iTunes brings up the “experimental 60s pop” of these bands and the Byrds and Syd Barrett (Pink Floyd). I will admit that I JUST got some Syd Barrett solo stuff and really need to delve in, as his influences are so far-reaching and powerful.
I love how one artist was able to open up so many new listens, and I am hoping he does the same for you. Feel free to start anywhere for like words, there are many definitions and meanings to explore in the music of Scott McCaughey and all his collaborators!
Enjoy the weekend.