Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Sixth Extinction

Genre: Progressive Rock
Artist: Ayreon
Album: 01011001

This song does not seem like a song that I would like because it is quite heavy. But there is a purpose for the heaviness. Each of Ayreon's albums is part of a huge story. This album focuses on a race that has evolved to the point where it has eliminated all emotions, and thereby eliminated all the bad things in life. There is no more crime or pain. They have even made themselves immortal. But there is no happiness or joy. So they decide to live vicariously through another race--ours. Unfortunately, our race eventually destroys itself, becoming extinct. As they see the destruction, they cry out, "I can see them crying! I can see the fear!" until "not a self . . . left alive."

But as they witness this destruction, they think of what they have learned. "Don't give up, remember how we felt--fire rushing through our veins . . . the meaning of life is to give life meaning!" How true that statement is! This race lived without feeling, without emotion. They could not die, but their lives had no meaning. Eventually, in this song, they reach the conclusion that they need to turn off the machines they depend on and deal with emotions and regain the will to fight and live.

The song ends with this race crying out to the Univsersal Migrator to make them whole, healing them from their meaningless lives. There is a God who is the Ruler of the Universe to whom I can cry out. He heals me and gives meaning and purpose to my life. If life starts to seem stale and empty, it is because it has lost its meaning. We must give our lives meaning, and there is only One who can do that. I personally know that I need to stop depending on other things, just as this race depended on their machines. By giving my life meaning, I will not meet my own extinction, nor will I be reduced to the same hopeless state as the race called Forever.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

This is England

Genre: Progressive Rock
Artist: It Bites
Album: The Tall Ships

Out of all the new albums I've heard this year, this is the best one! There is not a song on the CD that I don't like. But "This is England" is certainly one of the best, possibly my second favorite of the whole album. What is it about? Um . . . England? I'm actually not really sure! But there are some very poetic lyrics in the song and the music is also incredible.

My favorite line in the entire song is, "I'm so ready to fly with nowhere to fly to!" Isn't that beautiful? I picture myself spreading my arms and preparing to fly, but just as I lift off the ground, I look around and I am not sure where to go. I have so much potential inside of me, but I'm not sure what to do with it. The song seems to be a conflict, going through the mundane and striving for something more. The end of the song leads to a sense of fulfillment and conclusion. "At the end of the day I'm coming home."

One of the things I love the most about It Bites is their vocal arrangement. They do fantastic harmonies. This song has quite a few examples. When my friend Nate first talked about this band, I didn't think I would like them very much. In fact, he even showed me this song and I wasn't impressed. But at the moment I put on their CD in my car, I fell in love with them. (The first song on the CD is an AMAZING example of vocal harmonies). I cannot wait until this CD is released in the U.S. I am definitely going to buy a copy.

The Way Home

Genre: Progressive Rock
Artist: Neal Morse
Album: Lifeline

I first heard this song at the Neal Morse concert that I went to. It was one of the best birthday presents ever that Nate gave me. Neal had not yet released Lifeline, but he played this song at his concert. I loved it immediately. One of the great things about Neal is that his music is either based on personal experiences or else on people that he has met. This song is a combination of the two, but it could also be a song for me.

"Running from a destiny I wasn't sure was mine, I chose a life of obscurity and I left my dreams behind. I traded my ambitions for the safe and simple life. But lately I feel far away and inside I feel like I can't find my way home!" I love the first line about running from destiny. Sometimes I feel like I do that. I also feel the same way. I get lost. "And if I stay here too long, I may never find that place where I feel like I belong! Can't find my way home!"

"Eeking out fulfillment in a tiny plastic jar, there isn't much to go around when you don't know who you are!" This song is very touching to me. He explains that he knows that he is a child of God, but feels so far away from Him that he is no longer sure who he is. He does not feel fulfillment in his life. At the end of the song, he begs the Lord for help. "Lord, show me the way home! I know somehow I'll find the place where I feel like I belong!"

This song is about changing. It is about someone who feels lost and is finally turning to the true source of Light for guidance and help. I go through moments like these. It's not so much that I am running from my destiny as it is that I feel like I am going nowhere. Maybe, in a sense, I am running from my destiny. But, like the speaker in this song, "I feel just like a dark cold night that's reaching for the dawn!" Through the Lord, I will not only find the way home, but I will also find fulfillment in this life.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Disney Afternoon Theme

Genre: Disney
Artist: Unknown-some person connected with Disney, obviously
Album: The Disney Afternoon

Ah...this song takes me back to my childhood. Every day from 2-4, my time would be spent watching Disney Afternoon. My favorite show for a very long time was Gummi Bears, but I loved the other original shows, such as Ducktales, Chip 'N Dale Rescue Rangers, and Tale Spin. I loved Gummi Bears a lot. I remember going to see a play with my Grandma Wanlass in California (the whole family went). She had some taffy, and I liked it because there is a Gummi Bears episode about taffy. I also longed to make Gummi Berry Juice so that I could bounce like the Gummi Bears.

For a while, Kelloggs cereal came with four characters from each Disney Afternoon show. I collected all of them, but then I lost Gruffi, one of the Gummi Bears. It was years before I found him again on the window sill of the den, behind the computer. He was faded from the sunlight, but I still have him. Eventually Grandma Wanlass gave me all the characters she has (I think they were a recent Christmas present, actually). So now I have my faded Gruffi and a brand new Gruffi.

When I was nine-years-old, I went to Disneyland with my parents and with Char and Samantha. Char bought me a cassette tape of the Disney Afternoon soundtrack and I was so happy to get it. I remember me and Samantha singing the Ducktales theme song as we drove back home that night. The cassette eventually broke, but years later my aunt Dee gave me the CD. I was ecstatic!

As the show went on, I had other favorites, such as Darkwing Duck. I collected almost all the action figures, and even got the Quack Attack (his ship) for Christmas. My favorite toy was Megavolt, who would actually shoot sparks. I wish I could get them again. Then Bonkers came on. I LOVE Bonkers. I can't believe it's not on DVD yet. Oh, well. Great times! This show was a big part of my life up to the time I moved to Utah, and I'm already collecting all the volumes of each show on DVD.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Forever and Ever

Genre: Disney
Artist: I'm not sure. If you know, please tell me.
Album: Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search For Christopher Robin

This song makes me think of my dear friend Erlândio. He was my last companion on my mission and he is a very good friend. Of all my companions, I have kept in contact with him better than any of my other companions. Somehow, we hit it off really well. Our friendship can be summarized by one of the "Interesting Stories" he would read to me from a book. It was about two children who grew up on a hill and were told that one day they would grow up and have to leave. But even if they did, their friendship would last because true friendship is an invisible force that unites people. Erlândio and I are bound by such an invisible force. Our hill was the mission. The day came when I had to leave, and even though we no longer are together in person, our friendship remains strong.

Such is the case with Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin in this beautiful song. Christopher Robin is trying to tell Pooh that he has to go away, but Pooh tells him that if it isn't something nice, it can wait "forever and ever." When Christopher Robin replies that this is a very long time, Pooh responds, "Forever isn't long at all, Christopher, when I'm with you." The song then delves into the wonder of childhood and boyhood and the meaning of true friendships. Pooh says, "I wanna call your name forever and you will always answer, forever! And both of us will be forever you and me. Forever and ever."

At the end of the song, after they have both talked about how much they long to be together forever, always by each other's side, Christopher Robin makes a promise. "One thing you should know: no matter where I go, we'll always be together forever and ever." Even though Christopher Robin would have to leave, the invisible force that unites him with his best friend Winnie the Pooh would hold strong. In fact, it is this same invisible force that leads Pooh to set out on an adventure when he thinks Christopher Robin is in danger. I am very grateful for this invisible force and I am grateful to Erlândio, who taught me how to be a better friend.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Remember Dreams Come True

Genre: Disney
Artist: Various
Album: Well, apparently it doesn't matter because I can't find a picture of it, but it's a Disneyland CD, I promise!

I don't know if you can really count this as a song, but I will anyway! It's at least a track on a CD. This was Disney's last fireworks show, and I can't think of a more perfect tribute to Disneyland. First of all, Julie Andrews hosts the fireworks show. She talks about Walt Disney and how he had a dream, a dream that came true and that has blessed millions of people. She talks about our heroes that he brought to life for us, such as Peter Pan, Aladdin, the Little Mermaid, and more. As she talks about these things, Tinkerbell flies above the castle. Then, we relive the dream as clips from most of the rides at Disneyland are played and fireworks match them. One of my favorites is during Pirates of the Caribbean, They play the part where the pirate ship is attacking the fort, and each time you hear the sound of a cannon being fired, fireworks shoot overhead as if they were cannon balls. It's great!

I saw this show for the first time with my family, when we went back in 2006. I went back in 2007 with Nate and we only watched half of it. It was too windy, so they canceled the show halfway through. But in 2008, something happened that made that year an unforgetable Disneyland experience! I walked up to a cast member and asked her if they were going to cancel the show, because I could see a little wind. She said that she wasn't sure and asked if we had seen it before. I explained that I had, but Nate had only seen half of it. She told us to a wait a moment while she talked to her supervisor. She came back and told us she got permission to make us VIPs. We got to sit on a bench where we had a perfect view of the show. A cast member also offered to take a picture of us, which he did. The fireworks show was NOT canceled and it was a very magical way to end the day.

Although this specific show has been canceled, I will never forget that experience and the wonderful fun I had that year and every year at Disneyland. Just as the message of the fireworks show teaches, I believe that dreams come true.