Song of the Week- April 18- "Strange Ritual"

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Song of the Week- April 18- "Strange Ritual"

Postby Aspiemom on April 18th, 2011, 3:13 am

Oedepus selected this week's song, "Strange Ritual" from David Byrne. Here's the lyric. Tomorrow's tax day, so after I finish that chore I'll try to generate some fascinating insights, and I'll post whatever I end up with! Meanwhile, here's the lyric:

A man sits in a field — contemplating his crops
In his mind he travels all over the world

Mmm--I see hairstyles
Scenes of beauty
Scenes that disgust me
I see me --
I felt awe
Felt disgust
I felt bliss
I felt lust
It’s — not unusual

Saw people in a remote village proudly
wearing their-- digital watches
Saw a young Indonesian girl --
possessed by the spirit of Mutant Ninja Turtles
Saw — palatial estates, with crumbling decorations--
and human furniture

I saw hairstyles
Meanwhile
There’s a strange ritual
Got a strange ritual, it’s wearin’ me down

Saw a skyscraper made out of abandoned car parts
Saw a legislature of women courted by corporate lobbyists
Saw body parts made out of precious gems --and rare metals
Saw a man on a barstool — who hadn’t moved — in 32 hours

He’s lost in love
He’s lost in love
All hope is gone

A french corporation that doesn’t make anything
An ambulance driver — wakes up in a Dairy Queen
A town in which even the people who live
there can’t remember its name

Yeah, I see
Yeah I see — I see what you mean
Yeah I saw hairstyles
Meanwhile
There’s a strange ritual
He’s got a strange ritual
He keeps to himself
Mmm — got a strange ritual
He keeps to himself
“Excuse me, sir
Excuse me, sir
You can’t stand there
You can’t stand there”
Excuse me sir (excuse me sir)
Excuse me sir (excuse me sir)
You can’t stand there (you can’t stand there)
You can’t stand there (you can’t stand there)

I saw things
Things out in the fields
I saw things
Things out in the fields
And I look at myself
What do I know?
I saw things come into my room
It’s not unusual
I saw hairstyles
Meanwhile
There’s a strange ritual
Got a strange ritual
He keeps to himself
Yeah, we got a strange ritual
We keep to ourselves
He’s lost in love
He’s lost in love
All hope is gone
All hope is gone
All hands on deck
All hands on deck
He’s lost in love
He’s lost in love
We’re lost in love
We’re lost in love
All hope is gone
All hope is gone
We’ve got a strange ritual
We keep to ourselves
We’ve got a strange ritual
We keep to ourselves
We’ve got a strange ritual
We keep to ourselves
We’re lost in love
We’re lost in love
We’re lost in love
We’re lost in love
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Re: Song of the Week- April 18- "Strange Ritual"

Postby Aspiemom on April 18th, 2011, 3:19 am

Ah, procrastination allows me to get so much stuff done. Speaking of skyscrapers made of abandoned car parts, here's a photo and article about Carhenge, a replica of England's Stonehenge made of abandoned cars and located in Alliance, Nebraska. It's the second wackiest attraction in the United States! :respect: http://www.1011now.com/news/headlines/64481802.html
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Re: Song of the Week- April 18- "Strange Ritual"

Postby Oedepus on April 18th, 2011, 3:55 am

This song is what I call ambitious.

Right up there with I feel my stuff.

I've been listening to Strange Ritual all week to memorize it, and I have to say it's really fun to sing!
It's sort of therapeutic, it's a rollercoaster, I simply love the cathartic release of the last section (keep keep keep keep go!)

As with anything David, he's got talent for imagery, the song lays out a whole movie in your mind. When I listen to music at home with head phones I can pick up details a lot better than when I listen to albums outside. On Strange Ritual there's a noise before the guitar, though I can't tell what it is exactly. On A self-made man there's a very soft and almost faded intro as well. I just read David plays steel guitar on that one, could that be the reason he never played Self-made man live? or is that song too much of a show "pace breaker"?

On Strange Ritual, I wonder who is the man doing back up vocals, his voice is pretty cool. I can only find Bebel Gilberto on backing vocal credits for the song, and she's female :o

My intepretation of Strange Ritual is David talking about things that have impressed him on his travels, it's his ethnographer's song. I like that instead of creating something folksy or ethnic for the story, he backed it against a rock piece. I think of it as a mni-rock opera :)
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Re: Song of the Week- April 18- "Strange Ritual"

Postby Aspiemom on April 19th, 2011, 3:15 am

Oedepus wrote:This song is what I call ambitious.

Right up there with I feel my stuff.

I've been listening to Strange Ritual all week to memorize it, and I have to say it's really fun to sing!
It's sort of therapeutic, it's a rollercoaster, I simply love the cathartic release of the last section (keep keep keep keep go!)

As with anything David, he's got talent for imagery, the song lays out a whole movie in your mind. When I listen to music at home with head phones I can pick up details a lot better than when I listen to albums outside. On Strange Ritual there's a noise before the guitar, though I can't tell what it is exactly. On A self-made man there's a very soft and almost faded intro as well. I just read David plays steel guitar on that one, could that be the reason he never played Self-made man live? or is that song too much of a show "pace breaker"?

On Strange Ritual, I wonder who is the man doing back up vocals, his voice is pretty cool. I can only find Bebel Gilberto on backing vocal credits for the song, and she's female :o

My intepretation of Strange Ritual is David talking about things that have impressed him on his travels, it's his ethnographer's song. I like that instead of creating something folksy or ethnic for the story, he backed it against a rock piece. I think of it as a mni-rock opera :)


You're the ambitious one for picking such a stumper! :respect:

I hear the beginning sound as rolling thunder, and I hear it at the end too. Farmers are always watching the skies. I wonder whether the background vocal is someone being sampled? It sounds like an interview from someone who believes he's been visited by aliens!

It's cathartic, like "Angels," and we're flying again! But it's a much darker lyric, and we're disembodied, looking down at ourselves. "Things out in the fields" resonates with me, as a native of the Great Plains. A cornfield in the summer could hide almost anything. The stalks grow more than 6 feet high in rows that stretch for miles. Rural folk go there when they don't want to be seen. Our narrator here has a different perspective flying around the world looking down. Yeah, I bet he saw some things that weren't very nice.

The song is kind of like a roller coaster, but I feel it more like a long, steep climb. It's kind of like an arc-shaped ballad (think Celine Dion), that gets louder toward the end then backs off for the last few bars. But we're spared the cheesy key changes and endless choral repetitions. Listen to how the bass rhythms and the drums start out soft and infrequent (just a heartbeat like bump-bump on the downbeat), and end up playing on every beat with a hard hit on beats 2 and 4 (the backbeat/ rock beat). By the time we get to "keep, keep, keep, keep, keep, keep, go" every instrument is playing on every beat. The non-verbal vocalizations intensify this way too, from a quiet drone on the low-tonic note to a full belt on the high tonic at the end. The whole thing gets kind of lizard-brain with me; I'm not sure what's getting released or why it was in me at all. :shock: But it's fun to belt it out anyway. Who knew? :rockdude:

The imagery seems kind of End of History dystopic. Several images address human beings and things getting mixed up: body parts are made from precious gems and rare metals; human beings serve as furniture; Mutant Ninga Turtles. . . . At least the dig at the French corporation is familiar; those jokes have been made from Shakespeare to Monty Python.

The lyric does an interesting "them" to "us" switch. It starts out third-person "A man sits in a field," but quickly shifts to his perspective "I see me." Then the man sings "they've got a strange ritual," but by the end "we've got a strange ritual." Is he accepting that he's part of humanity after all, not so different than the rest of the screwed-up people down there? (The song reminds me of "the Big Country" in some ways).

Lastly, maybe this is idiosyncratic to me, but "he's lost in love" always reminds me of "Lost in Love" by Air Supply. At one time, I believed this was The Best Song Ever! :oops: In my defense, I was ten years old. S!mbells, I blame your countrymen for stunting my musical development. Here's the song (another arc-format song): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpntNDAYltM
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Re: Song of the Week- April 18- "Strange Ritual"

Postby mscott on April 19th, 2011, 9:34 am

When Dvid Enryb came out I was very dissapointed but absolutely loved this track. However this album was a reall grower and I appreciated it later

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Re: Song of the Week- April 18- "Strange Ritual"

Postby Oedepus on April 19th, 2011, 2:41 pm

You set a very scary scenario with the tall cornfield and the thunders! I love it.

A friend whom I recently made a Byrne fan told me he feels some of the things Byrne mentions are not real, and that the "Strange Ritual" is everyone's most mundane habits.

I think even the most surreal things he describes were actually witnessed. He questioned the human furniture and the man who hadn't moved. Both are very possible in my opinion, the human furniture could simply be people on their kness used as resting spots for someone's feet :o

I'm not sure what we release when we sing that part either, perhaps the whole act of singing the song is a Strange Ritual in itself ;)

The mutant ninja turtles girl sets out a possible scenario for an exorcism!

I hear the mysterious man singing backing vocals on the 1993 CBGB'S try out show for the Byrne album, so he's probably Paul Socolow?

On the same show, as an introduction to Strange Ritual Byrne said:

Thank you-

This is a song I wrote most of the words on a train between El Paso and LA. And some of them on the streets of El Paso.
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Re: Song of the Week- April 18- "Strange Ritual"

Postby Aspiemom on April 20th, 2011, 1:52 am

mscott wrote:When Dvid Enryb came out I was very dissapointed but absolutely loved this track. However this album was a reall grower and I appreciated it later

mick


Cool that you heard the album when it came out. I'm interested in the different perspectives of people who heard the music when it was new. Oedepus and I are playing catch-up.
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Re: Song of the Week- April 18- "Strange Ritual"

Postby Aspiemom on April 20th, 2011, 2:20 am

Oedepus wrote:A friend whom I recently made a Byrne fan told me he feels some of the things Byrne mentions are not real, and that the "Strange Ritual" is everyone's most mundane habits.

I think even the most surreal things he describes were actually witnessed. He questioned the human furniture and the man who hadn't moved. Both are very possible in my opinion, the human furniture could simply be people on their kness used as resting spots for someone's feet :o

The mutant ninja turtles girl sets out a possible scenario for an exorcism!

I hear the mysterious man singing backing vocals on the 1993 CBGB'S try out show for the Byrne album, so he's probably Paul Socolow?

On the same show, as an introduction to Strange Ritual Byrne said:

Thank you-

This is a song I wrote most of the words on a train between El Paso and LA. And some of them on the streets of El Paso.


Looking out a train window would give a similar perspective to the farmer traveling in his mind all over the world! Thanks for that. I haven't seen the 1993 CBGB's try out show. That sounds like a strange ritual in and of itself.

I don't have a bead on what the strange ritual is. It could be mundane habits, like in Aimee Mann's song "Momentum" ("Even when it's approaching torture, I've got my routine.")

I feel like the Indonesian girl should be possessed by some pagan earth-spirit like in Brazil, but that our idiotic consumer culture has dulled her senses. An exorcism might not be the worst idea. . . .

I'm with you that the surreal objects could be based on real things that DB saw at some point. In the song, everything that is described exists within the farmer's head- he's traveling all over the world only in his mind. So all the feelings, the beauty and the ugliness, that he describes as observations of the world are actually inside himself. "Things of beauty. Things that disgust me. I see me. [wordless measure]." He's inside and outside at the same time. All perception occurs within the mind, and it's very difficult to know what's really out there, separate from the mental constructions we use to interpret it. It's all him. :hippy:
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Re: Song of the Week- April 18- "Strange Ritual"

Postby Oedepus on April 21st, 2011, 3:52 am

"I see me" is an eyebrow raiser for sure in regards to the story. At first he seems completely dettatched and freaked out at what he witnesses, and with "I see me" seems like he found out he's a participant of what he finds so disgusting.

Aspiemom wrote:I haven't seen the 1993 CBGB's try out show. That sounds like a strange ritual in and of itself.


There were 2 try outs, I got this one:

Act 1:

Introduction
Sad Song
Nothing at all
God's Child (wonder why this didn't make it to the record)
Lilies of the valley (I'm still confused about how much of this is autobiographical)
A Long Time Ago
My Love is You
Buck Naked
Angels (Very different from the final version, it's all over the place)
Ready For This World (see how they are connected?)

Act 2:

Back in The Box
Empire (Very different from the Grown Backwards version. This one has awesome drums!)
Princess
Crash
You & Eye
All Over Me (Released until Look into The Eyeball, Princess was Re-released too, I wonder why he wanted to bring more attention to the track, perhaps he really likes it and feels not many people heard it based on the rarity of the Angels single)
Gypsy Woman
Strange Ritual (A little shorter than the album version)

After this they went on to Record David Byrne!
Howdy-do? This is Peter McCalister, the FATHER. I'd like a hotel room,
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Re: Song of the Week- April 18- "Strange Ritual"

Postby Aspiemom on April 21st, 2011, 5:05 am

Thanks, I'll try to track that down. :)
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Re: Song of the Week- April 18- "Strange Ritual"

Postby Aspiemom on April 22nd, 2011, 2:44 am

s!mbells wrote:"A man sits in a field — contemplating his crops, In his mind he travels all over the world" - could be a metaphor for "someBoDy" contemplating the "values" of their life, both material and spiritual, and they "travel", comparing, evaluating against their own life gaining a sense of achievement, a sense of belonging and a sense of understanding. Indexing.

Interesting choice Oedepus. I'm glad you did - I forgot how passionate DB becomes at the end. I also get a feeling that he lets go of some baggage on this CD and this song.

:rockdude:


someBoDy- clever! (It just occurred to me that the DavidenryB could represent someone looking in a mirror. I should have cracked that nut earlier.)

I hadn't thought of crops as a metaphor, but of course that's big in the Bible and "Lilies of the Valley." Reaping and sewing and such. I think you're right. I still get an impression closer to The Scream painting than peaceful acceptance though. Realizing that he belongs to this mess is maybe not a happy process.
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Re: Song of the Week- April 18- "Strange Ritual"

Postby Oedepus on April 22nd, 2011, 3:24 am

Aspiemom wrote:someBoDy- clever! (It just occurred to me that the DavidenryB could represent someone looking in a mirror. I should have cracked that nut earlier.)


Brilliant :idea:
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Re: Song of the Week- April 18- "Strange Ritual"

Postby Aspiemom on April 28th, 2011, 2:18 am

Oedepus wrote:"
There were 2 try outs, I got this one:

Act 1:

....
Angels (Very different from the final version, it's all over the place)
Ready For This World (see how they are connected?)


Strange Ritual (A little shorter than the album version)

After this they went on to Record David Byrne!


Re: Angels and Ready for this World, I see what you mean. ;)

I miss the non-verbal vocals on the CBGB tryout recording.

S!mbells, I'm still stumped by what the Strange Ritual might be. The Strange Ritual book is mostly pictures of objects, but that's not clarifying it for me. There are some "strange rites" in Burroughs' Naked Lunch that mostly address procreation of freakish creatures. Ugh.
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Re: Song of the Week- April 18- "Strange Ritual"

Postby Oedepus on April 28th, 2011, 4:28 am

Oh, the Grown Backwards cover slipcase is a mirror as well. And then the inside subject has become a drawing, mhm...
Howdy-do? This is Peter McCalister, the FATHER. I'd like a hotel room,
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Re: Song of the Week- April 18- "Strange Ritual"

Postby Aspiemom on April 29th, 2011, 1:53 am

Oedepus wrote:Oh, the Grown Backwards cover slipcase is a mirror as well. And then the inside subject has become a drawing, mhm...


Deep. :hippy: Thanks for letting me know.

P.S. It's Thursday. Did you stay on schedule?
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Re: Song of the Week- April 18- "Strange Ritual"

Postby Aspiemom on April 30th, 2011, 9:15 pm

"I saw things come into my room. It's not unusual."

Here's "Lifted" by Pixar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pY1_HrhwaXU
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Re: Song of the Week- April 18- "Strange Ritual"

Postby Oedepus on May 2nd, 2011, 3:33 pm

Awesome video, thank you Aspie!

The hardest part to sing in this song is the final "yeeeeaaaahhh" it's so high pitched!

s!mbells: what particular moment makes you nervous, or is it the whole song?

I officialy declare it my favorite track on DB '94
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Re: Song of the Week- April 18- "Strange Ritual"

Postby Oedepus on June 9th, 2011, 4:25 pm

Silvia Albertazzi:

To talk about his vision of society and collectivity Byrne returns to the technique of lists and juxtaposed images he used at the time of Fear of Music and Remain in Light: "Saw people in a remote village/ wearing their ..digital watches/ Saw a young Indonesian girl.../ Possessed by the spirit of Mutant Ninja Turtles/ Saw... palatial estates, with crumbling/ decorations... and human furniture/ I saw hairstyles/.../ Saw a skyscraper made out of abandoned car parts/.../ Saw a man on a barstool ... who hadn't/ moved ... in 32 hours..."

As he did more than fifteen years ago, Byrne is still trying to translate into words the way we often see the world: a heap of things scattered around carelessly, always unrelated to one another, linked by the poet only to create images whose meaning (if there is one) lies in the emotional fascination of pure sounds. Yet, while in the early eighties Byrne consciously proposed to 'stop making sense', in the mid-nineties he strives to build a context for the unnameable and the incomprehensible. As a result, life appears as a series of strange (because they are not understandable) rituals (e.g., recurring situations the artist tries to contextualize, seldom successfully).


http://www.talking-heads.nl/index.php/d ... the-lyrics
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Re: Song of the Week- April 18- "Strange Ritual"

Postby Aspiemom on August 4th, 2011, 3:43 am

I’m still thinking about this song and the use of ritual to create mystical experience. Sometimes when an action is repeated, it seems connected to every time it has happened before and every time it will happen in the future. Not just with religious rituals. Sometimes I feel that just brushing my teeth, entering my office, firing up my PC and hearing Eno’s ditty. . . . Like a stitch through my life tying the days together. (I’m never sure whether to trust these experiences or chalk them up to some quirk of neurology or evolution, but never mind.)

So, I’m wondering if the song describes a similar experience but in a different dimension- space. Everything described could be happening at the same moment, and connected for that reason alone. Somehow the singer has overcome the limit of the horizon and sees everything through that connection of coincidence.

I don’t have that kind of mystical ability, but now I can buy the next best thing! There’s a “blind” camera with no lens. It just records the time, and then collects pictures online that were taken at the same moment that you pushed the button. People all over the world engaged in the same ritual of snapping a picture, creating a record of one moment. Is that connection interesting enough to be worth exploring? Maybe. :hippy: Here’s a link: http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2011/08/news-from-the-future-blind-camera-show-pictures-taken-at-the-same-time.html
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Re: Song of the Week- April 18- "Strange Ritual"

Postby muleskinner on August 4th, 2011, 2:00 pm

Other than "My life in the bush of ghosts", davidenryb is arguably the most hallucinogen influenced album he's done, both lyrically and musically.

Not speaking from personal experience or anything ;) , but consider under what circumstances the following might happen:

We made love in a shower of stars
I had a vision in my backyard
I saw a car drive across the sky
Behind the wheel, look
there, it's you and I
Looks like we're gonna get
outta ourselves tonight

Looks like
What do you suppose?
Was it nothing at all?
What do you suppose?
Was it nothing at all?
.....Shake your body till the fear is gone

just sayin'
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