Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Scorpions - Ruby Tuesday



In January 2007 I started the Music in Review. It was an indirect way to say hello to my friends. I wanted to talk to my old friends but I did not feel comfortable rambling on about myself. I wanted there to more to the dialogue then simple attention seeking. There has always been one topic I am always excited to engage, and that is, obviously, music. So an emailing list with an individual song as the subject was my solution and I named it the Music in Review. Six years have passed, and in that time I have written ninety-nine “Music in Reviews,” five short essays, and one love letter. I love you Sara Quin.

The first Music in Review was a prototype. I was unsure whether I wanted to talk about a movie or a song. In the end I thought the great movie “Children of Men” would be a nice segue to introduce “Ruby Tuesday.” You see a really lame version of “Ruby Tuesday” is played in “Children of Men.” A cover so bad it was cringe worthy, and, well that was it; that was my introduction. Even though it was a somewhat weak review most of my friends found it charming and I felt it was a good creative writing exercise. Also I liked writing music reviews.

I have seen a lot of people start a blog, or mailing lists, or some kind of creative writing project, and utterly fail to create more than a few respectable offerings to their imagination. But I stuck with it, and after six years, I can, in all humility, say I have created something to be proud of. Every month I wrote a new review, two years and two months ago I started writing two a month, and I wrote three that last two months. Like clockwork I have written about my love of music, and hey, some of these are pretty good; well I think so anyway.

This is it, number one-hundred, and yeah, it feels kind of special.

It all started with The Rolling Stones – Ruby Tuesday, I feel it only fitting I should come back to that song. Late 2011 The Scorpions released a celebration (cover/compilation) album titled “Comeblack” and amongst the seven cover songs there is “Ruby Tuesday.”

I call “Comeblack” a celebration album because I lack an official term. “Comeblack” is half cover songs and half rerecorded versions of classic Scorpions songs, like “No one Like You,” and “Wind of Change.” This is similar to Helloween’s “Unarmed” or Uriah Heep’s “Celebration” albums, which, I love. I bought Uriah Heep – Celebration first, hence the use of the term.

In 2010 The Scorpions announced their final tour with the release of their final album “Sting in the Tail,” and I cannot help but suspect that “Comeblack” is a very direct follow up. There is a very reoccurring theme through “Sting in the Tail” about looking forward to the future, not uncommon for The Scorpions, but when they sing that the best is yet to come, I think the sentiment goes beyond a humble declaration that others will carrying on what Scorpions began. I believe the joy of life for our friends The Scorpions will only grow in the coming years. Somehow, at least in my mind, this ties in directly to them covering “Ruby Tuesday.”

“Ruby Tuesday” is not just a song about a whimsical girl, it is about the message that she brings.

“There’s no time to lose, I heard her say,
Catch your dreams before, they slip away.”

The emotion behind such words is not very commanding, more foreboding. We have a limited amount of time to live and our dreams, so many of which are so impossible, can only be realized within these brief moments between birth and death. It would be a sad song, if it was not so cheerful, if it were not so beautiful, because, running after our dreams, that alone is spectacular, and I know, you know, we’ve only just begun.

The Scorpions cover songs like “Tin Soldiers” and “Children of the Revolution” incredibly well, but “Ruby Tuesday,” perhaps just because I love the song so much, is the prize on “Comeblack.” The song fits them like a glove, almost like fate demanded they cover this song before they retire. When you look at songs like “Wind of Change” and “The Best is Yet to Come,” “Ruby Tuesday” just fits alongside them perfectly. Klaus Meine, who so often sang about the bright future ahead, is the perfect candidate to sing “Ruby Tuesday” in place of Mick Jagger. I do not know the man but I highly suspect that Meine feels a personal connection with “Ruby Tuesday,” and even if he does not, I feel a personal connection between him and this song. Meine is a good dude, you can just tell, and “Ruby Tuesday” is an uplifting song that puts a smile on your face.

Here’s to another one-hundred reviews.

Until next year, keep on rocking in the free world.

- Colin Kelly

P.S.

Also, I know, you know, the best is yet to come:

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Scorpions - Wind of Change



I have never considered myself to be a political person. Those who do consider themselves political are often singularly minded about it. They watch a lot of political commentary and news, they read books about it, and they listen to music deemed political. The majority of bands who are considered political are often, in my opinion, two things, bad and ironically not politically themed.

Green Day sucks and they bandwagon jumped onto the whole anti-Bush campaign right around the same time everyone else did, and I mean everyone. System of A Down has always sucked, and they believed that inappropriately mentioning events we all consider historically important qualified them as political commentators. We seem to have misclassified childish antagonism as the sole qualifier for being “political.” There is some dramatic point about modern society and the childish antagonism that is the modern political game in the things I have just said, but the point I am attempting to raise is that negativity does not need to be the only possible scene dressing of all politically commentaries.

“We played in Moscow at the Musical Peace Festival back in 89, and we went on stage and we were singing ‘Still Loving You” and a hundred thousand Russians were singing along with a German band; every word. I think that moment was the inspiration for this song I want to play for you now. Even though the wind is blowing in our face, I think there is always hope. Hope we stop killing each other and someday we all live in peace together on this planet. Here is ‘Wind of Change.’” – Klaus Meine

The Scorpions are an old German rock band. The founder of the Scorpions, guitarist Rudolf Schenker, formed the group back in 1965, but it was not until 1970 when Rudolf’s younger brother Michael and Klaus Meine joined the band that the Scorpions became a real force in music. Michael would assist with guitars for a few albums but Meine performs as The Scorpions’ front man to this day. It is a long period of time between 1965 (or even 1970) to 1989 when the Berlin wall finally came down, and I assume it meant a lot for the Scorpions to see Germany united and also friendship with the rest of Europe reborn.

It is amazing to think that in my lifetime I saw the end of the cold war and the opening of borders between countries that constitute some of the strongest friendship in the world. Admittedly I was too young to really appreciate the full significance of peace in Europe at the time the Berlin wall fell, being only eight years old, but it makes a lot of sense to me now hearing Meine’s words about peace and change. He was rocking for nearly two decades before he ever had the opportunity to play in Russia or even the eastern half of his native Germany. When you pause to reflect on the lyrics and the purpose of a song like “Wind of Change” it starts to feel all the more wonderful. This was a song written in many ways as an olive branch of peace and love between the east and west, and even more beautifully it was accepted wholesale.

"Wind of Change" appear on the
Scorpions' 1990 album "Crazy World"
One of the additional reasons I found “Wind of Change” so touching is that the negativity that tore Europe apart for so long is neither ignored nor dwelled upon.

“Walking down the streets,
Distance memories,
Are buried in the past forever.”

I believe this lyric applies to more than just the animosities between the west and the east in the cold war. I believe the sentiment of burying the past applies to the cultural divide in Europe that caused the first and second world wars. It also applies to the racial and political difference between the Germanic and the Slavic people, a racist grudge that many modern youths have completely forgotten. It also applies to the horrors committed by Nazis in World War Two, and no, I do not think it is easy for a German band to quietly brush over the topic. Everything about “Wind of Change” makes it a very political song, but since it is an earnest song about peace and cooperation it may not fit the expectations of modern political thinkers. “Wind of Change” is a hopeful song and everyone knows that does not make good news.

Knowing that “Wind of Change” is a song to unite Europe, and the world, it is wonderful to hear the variety of versions of this song. Other languages Klaus Meine has recorded “Wind of Change” in include:

Russian:

Spanish:

Interestingly enough I cannot find the German version, which I am all but certain must exist. I should like to say that I think it is fantastic that Klaus Meine can speak so many languages, or at least speak them well enough to sing one of his greatest songs in them. Furthermore I believe the Russian version is significant. The primary focus of “Wind of Change” is the opening of Europe from the fall of the former Soviet Union, Russia welcoming the rest of Europe into their country and the rest of Europe welcoming them as comrades. A German band singing in Russian may be a small way of giving back to that 1989 concert when a hundred thousand Russians sang along with a German band.

I love the Scorpions. They are quite possibly one of the most unrated bands ever here in North America. However in Europe Scorpions are regarded as one of the greatest of all time, which is exactly the kind of respect they deserve, and I hope my few words have sufficiently explained why.

“The world is closing in,
Did you ever think,
That we could be so close, like brothers.
The future’s in the air,
I can feel it everywhere,
Blowing with the wind of change.”

- Colin Kelly