Poem for the Day: October 11th, 2021

Woodstock by Joni Mitchell

I came upon a child of God
He was walking along the road
And I asked him where are you going
And this he told me
I'm going on down to Yasgur's farm *
I'm going to join in a rock 'n' roll band
I'm going to camp out on the land
I'm going to try an' get my soul free

We are stardust
We are golden
And we've got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

Then can I walk beside you
I have come here to lose the smog
And I feel to be a cog in something turning
Well maybe it is just the time of year
Or maybe it's the time of man
I don't know who I am
But you know life is for learning

We are stardust
We are golden
And we've got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

By the time we got to Woodstock
We were half a million strong
And everywhere there was song and celebration
And I dreamed I saw the bombers
Riding shotgun in the sky
And they were turning into butterflies
Above our nation

We are stardust
Billion year old carbon
We are golden
Caught in the devil's bargain
And we've got to get ourselves
back to the garden

© October 22, 1969; Siquomb Publishing Corp.

I also remember being entranced by the hippie woman with the guitar whose voice was at once a hymn, a hallowed thing, and a harbinger.

I can already hear the dissenting murmurs. Is “Woodstock” technically poetry? Nope. Sure isn’t. Do I care? Also no. And to be perfectly honest, if Joni Mitchell’s song lyrics don’t count as poetry, then almost nothing does. I first fell in love with Joni Mitchell in high school. The class was Introduction to Agricultural Science or something like that and Mr. Evans was our teacher. We spent a short period of time on conservation and climate science, but I distinctly remember him playing “Big Yellow Taxi” for us. I also remember being entranced by the hippie woman with the guitar whose voice was at once a hymn, a hallowed thing, and a harbinger.

I decided then and there that if the best tracks from Blue couldn’t make a believer out of her, she’d just have to remain an apostate while I belted it out in the choir.

I am not going to lie. Joni Mitchell is an acquired taste. Not everyone likes her music. My mom cringes every time I play “Urge for Going” or “Blue”. I even tried to convert her with “River” but that also proved ineffective. I decided then and there that if the best tracks from Blue couldn’t make a believer out of her, she’d just have to remain an apostate while I belted it out in the choir. The truth is, even I had to listen to her for a number of years before I really understood her particular mystique, and I owe most of that to repeat listens of “Woodstock”.

Really, if you’ve never listened to Joni Mitchell, do yourself a favor and dive right in anywhere. Now is as good a time as any because on November 12th she’s releasing Joni Mitchell Archives, Vol. 2: The Reprise Years (1968-1971), which you can preorder wherever you get your music, but preferably from your local record store, if you’re lucky enough to have one.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Wildest Dreams (Taylor’s Version) – Single

What kind of game is Taylor playing with us?

Here I had myself emotionally prepped for a new Red era, one assuaged of the guilt accompanying listening to the BMR (original) version. Now she drops a re-recorded single from 1989?

I didn’t have a full-fledged rebellion in me, but I wanted to act out in a very concrete, yet still mostly vanilla way.

A little background for you all. I was a college freshman in 2014. The world was eagerly awaiting Taylor Swift’s pure pop debut as was I. I’ve always been somewhat of a goody two shoes, flaunting my moral superiority over the weaker beings inhabiting my sphere. But I was young. Well, young-er than I am now. I didn’t have a full-fledged rebellion in me, but I wanted to act out in a very concrete, yet still mostly vanilla way.

As the last notes of “Clean” played out, I declared that she would garner another Grammy for Album of the Year. And she did.

So on October 27th, 2014, I skipped every single college class I had that day. I went to Walmart very early in the morning to buy 1989, so early in fact that the employee working in electronics had to open the box containing the CDs so I could buy one. I stopped by McDonald’s for some sausage biscuits and a large soda, and I went home (I didn’t live on campus; dorms are gross, no thank you). I listened to it all the way through, patiently absorbing this new sound of Taylor’s. And I fell in love. As the last notes of “Clean” played out, I declared that she would garner another Grammy for Album of the Year. And she did.

I am a veritable maelstrom of confusion, angst, and guarded anticipation.

So can you imagine how I feel right now? I am a veritable maelstrom of confusion, angst, and guarded anticipation. What is next for the Swiftie community? What will Mother Taylor give us next? I will be watching closely to find out.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Album Review: If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power by Halsey

If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power by Halsey

Release Date: August 26th, 2021

Label: Capitol Records; ℗ 2021 UMG Recordings, Inc.

She was sweet like honey / And all I can taste is the blood in my mouth / And the bitterness in goodbye

honey by Halsey

Mother. Warrior. Killer. Queen.

Just when I think Halsey is finished surprising me, she releases an album like If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power. Produced by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross of Nine Inch Nails fame, Halsey’s senior effort showcases the work of an artist who has come fully into their own. If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power is lush, cinematic, and crackling with electricity. Its shifting tonality is also quite pleasing, going from the heavy industrial sounds crafted by Reznor and Ross on songs like “Bells in Santa Fe” to the tender guitar-driven lyricism of songs like “Darling”—like chasing salty fries with greedy gulps of ice-cold Coca-Cola.

If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power is lush, cinematic, and crackling with electricity.

Everything in the album from the artwork on the cover to the lyrics speaking of the beauty and heartbreak involved in childbirth and motherhood, invokes religious iconography of the Holy Madonna.

I am not a woman, I’m a god / I am not a martyr, I’m a problem / I am not a legend, I’m a fraud

I am not a woman, I’m a god by Halsey

All in all, H4 is a powerhouse of a record, shattering expectations and assumptions while asserting a confidence borne of both pain and pleasure. Honestly, I’m kicking myself for not preordering the limited edition vinyl. If you know where I can get one, email me. 😭😭😭

Favorite Tracks

“You asked for this”, “honey”, and “I am not a woman, I’m a god”.

If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power is available to order or purchase wherever music is sold.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter and Instagram @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Album Review: Solar Power by Lorde

Solar Power by Lorde

We’ve waited four long years for another Lorde album. With Solar Power, Lorde has traded the bass and bombast that characterized both Pure Heroine and Melodrama for a more languorous sound, one that doesn’t care whether or not you like it as long as she vibes with it.

With Solar Power, Lorde had traded the bass and bombast that characterized both Pure Heroine and Melodrama for a more languorous sound, one that doesn’t care whether or not you like it as long as she vibes with it.

And vibe with it she does. The Atlantic’s Spencer Kornhaber calls Solar Power a “rock nostalgist’s dream,” and I can’t think of a more apt descriptor for Lorde’s junior record. Lorde co-produced the album with Jack Antonoff, who in addition to his work in fun. and Bleachers is also a frequent collaborator of Lana Del Rey and Taylor Swift. Some keyboard warriors on Twitter took to their phones first thing this morning to trash the album and Antonoff in particular, but in my opinion they’re way off-base.

For one thing, music doesn’t have to be radio-friendly to be worthy of praise. It may be a little early to call, but I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Lorde takes home Album of the Year at the Grammy’s next year, which would be a glorious middle finger in the faces of her detractors.

It may be a little early to call, but I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Lorde takes home Album of the Year at the Grammy’s next year, which would be a glorious middle finger in the faces of her detractors.

Lorde seems to have anticipated the criticism now coming her way, because in the title track she gives us this delicious double entendre: “Can you reach me? No, you can’t,” asserting both her self-prioritization and the fact that she doesn’t need to prove anything to her haters because she’s already beaten them.

All in all, Solar Power is a powerhouse of a record, if a subdued one. It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, for sure, but then again I don’t think it’s meant to be. Lorde is just living her life and if you don’t like her, I don’t think she cares—she’ll just keep singing in the sand.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please follow, like, comment, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at thevoraciousbibliophile@yahoo.com or catch me on Twitter @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Album Review: Happier Than Ever by Billie Eilish

How does Billie Eilish respond to criticism of her newest full-length offering, Happier Than Ever? With a dismissive eye roll and a snappy comeback.

Apparently, many “fans” of Eilish are not enamored with her sophomore effort, ostensibly because of its lack of radio-friendly tracks. This doesn’t seem to bother Eilish, however, who’s too busy counting her stacks and referencing her rack at the same time to be bothered by petty inanities.

This doesn’t seem to bother Eilish, however, who’s too busy counting her stacks and referencing her rack at the same time to bothered by petty inanities.

Clapping back at a slate of recent TikTok videos made by so-called fans, Eilish posted a video with “NDA” playing in the background while her eyes are rolling up at the text is it just me or is billie in her flop era like why does she suck now. Her c(l)aption: literally all i see on this app…eat my dust my tits are bigger than yours.

…eat my dust my tits are bigger than yours

Billie Eilish

This is the very reason the world (and yours truly) loves Billie: she doesn’t play by anyone’s rules except her own. The same woman who drew criticism for wearing excessively baggy clothing on the red carpet is the same woman who drew criticism for posing seductively on the June 2021 cover of British Vogue wearing a corset and sporting new blonde locks.

Happier Than Ever embraces these complexities while at the same time rejecting all classification whatsoever. What matters more than anything is what Billie wants to say in the moment, and she has a lot to say on this record—about fame, mental health, sex, and the (im)balances of power inherent in all relationships (toxic and otherwise).

What matters more than anything is what Billie wants to say in the moment, and she has a lot to say on this record—about fame, mental health, sex, and the (im)balances of power inherent in all relationships (toxic and otherwise).

Haters are never happy with how women own their power and inhabit their sexuality, always attempting to reify a made-up circumscription placing them within a false dichotomy of prude or slut, Madonna or whore. How much cleavage is too much? How little is too little? Is she pure or just a tease? It’s all nonsense rooted in the detractors’ own unavoidable mediocrity: eat my dust my tits are bigger than yours.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4/4)

Favorite Tracks: “I Didn’t Change My Number”, “Oxytocin” “OverHeated”, “Your Power”, and “Happier Than Ever”.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please follow, like, comment, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at thevoraciousbibliophile@yahoo.com or catch me on Twitter @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Album Review: I Call It Human – EP by Emily Weisband

I Call It Being Human – EP by Emily Weisband

Ain’t it just like you

Putting new salt in an old wound?

New Salt by Emily Weisband

Some artists just have a knack for what sounds good. Emily Weisband, who until just recently escaped my radar, never planned on becoming a performing artist. The Grammy-winning songwriter originally relocated to Nashville, Tennessee to score a publishing deal and did just that. She’s penned songs for the artists as diverse as BTS, Halsey, Camila Cabello, Lauren Alaina, Jeremy Camp, and Hillary Scott and The Scott Family. It was for her work on the song “Thy Will” with Hillary Scott and The Scott Family that garnered her a Grammy for Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards.

Now she’s started recording her own music. The result is something fresh and unique yet wholly resonant and recognizable at the same time. I Call It Being Human deals with all of the messy emotions that are the hallmark of great art and great pop music specifically. Weisband doesn’t really break new ground here, but instead shows that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to get from point A to point B.

I’ve already added the rest of her catalog to my Apple Music queue if that tells you anything.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please follow, like, comment, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at thevoraciousbibliophile@yahoo.com or catch me on Twitter @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

On Repeat, Midsummer: A Playlist

Initially, it was my intention to create a playlist to share with readers of this blog via Apple Music. Either I’m not tech-savvy enough to figure out how to do this or it’s not possible. My vanity leads me to believe the latter. I really like the playlist though, so I’m going to share it the old-fashioned way: I’m sending each and every one of you a scrap of parchment arriving via carrier pigeon. Ha! Just kidding. Enjoy!

#1: the lakes (original version) by Taylor Swift

#2: Waiting by Alice Boman

#3: Bleecker Street by Simon & Garfunkel

#4: Faith of the Heart by Rod Stewart

#5: Venice Bitch by Lana Del Rey

#6: Hallelujah by k.d. lang

#7: Should Have Known Better by Sufjan Stevens

#8: Hometown Glory by Adele

#9: Passionfruit by Drake

#10: Speechless by Lady Gaga

#11: Twinkle Song by Miley Cyrus

#12: Gooey by Glass Animals

#13: A Change of Heart by The 1975

#14: Good Days by SZA

#15: Face Like Thunder by The Japanese House

#16: Still Learning by Halsey

#17: Grand Piano by Nicki Minaj

#18: Chandelier (Piano Version) by Sia

#19: The Riddle by Five for Fighting

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please follow, like, comment, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at thevoraciousbibliophile@yahoo.com or catch me on Twitter @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

All Hail Halsey: New Baby, New Beats

Ashley Frangipane, otherwise known as global superstar Halsey, has been quite busy lately. They dropped their third full-length LP Manic in January of last year. 2020 also brought us collaborations between Halsey and Kelsea Ballerini (the other girl), Juice WRLD (Life’s a Mess; R.I.P.), and Marshmello (Be Kind).

As if this wasn’t already a bountiful Halsey harvest, she also released her first collection of poetry, I Would Leave Me If I Could, in November.

Now, Halsey has welcomed their first child with boyfriend Alev Aydin, named Ender Ridley Aydin. Emergent motherhood must bolster creativity in some way, because shortly after giving birth, Halsey also surprised us with news of the release date for their new album, due out on August 27th, titled If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power. Just from the title alone, we can probably anticipate fare we’ve come to expect (and adore) from Halsey: angst tinged with tenderness, stories of survival, and declarations of love steeped in her own mythos.

Just from the title alone, we can probably anticipate fare we’ve come to expect (and adore) from Halsey: angst tinged with tenderness, stories of survival, and declarations of love steeped in her own mythos.

How are we supposed to handle all of this? I know 2020 gave a lot of us more time to create, but I don’t know if I can emotionally process new bodies of work by Billie Eilish, Lana Del Rey, Lorde, and now Halsey all in one year. This isn’t even mentioning Red (Taylor’s Version) due out in the fall, which is sure to make mincemeat of our hearts. If only I could get someone to fall in love with me and break my heart before then, so I could really appreciate the album the way it was meant to be appreciated.

I guess I’ll have to find a way to cope. It looks like Adele and Rihanna are hell-bent on making us wait for new material, and at this point I can only say thank God, because that would really be too much.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please follow, like, comment, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at thevoraciousbibliophile@yahoo.com or catch me on Twitter @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Album Review: ELIO and Friends: The Remixes by ELIO

When a zennial chooses as their moniker the name of one of your favorite characters in modern literature (and cinema), you just know you’re bound to like them.

Enter ELIO, a.k.a. Charlotte Lee. According to an interview she did with Jess Grant for We Are: The Guard, The 1975’s eponymous debut album was life-changing for her, and you can totally hear that influence in her sound. It’s EDM-infused atmospheric pop: contemplative, nostalgic, and anxiety-riddled. And how could it not be all of those things at once? To be young in a world on fire, looking to the Internet (because sometimes it’s the only place) for clarity and community, and knowing with an airtight certainty that you won’t live to be old (because of climate change), sometimes you just have to groove to your own beat.

It’s [her sound] EDM-infused atmospheric pop: contemplative, nostalgic, and anxiety-riddled. And how could it not be all of those things at once?

The first time I listened to “Jackie Onassis”, one of the tracks remixed on this EP, I was transfixed. Like the icons she emulates, ELIO’s style is effortless and unpretentious, which makes it all the more alluring.

We can go to dinner in Paris / And we’ll be trends in fashion like Jackie Onassis / I’ll keep taking antidepressants / And we can drive away from this adolescence

Jackie Onassis by ELIO

My take: If you don’t seat-dance your way through traffic or make a complete fool of yourself in your living room crumping and twerking and bopping while listening to this EP, there’s something wrong with you. I hate to be so frank, but facts are facts.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please follow, like, comment, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at thevoraciousbibliophile@yahoo.com or catch me on Twitter @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Album Review: One Foot In Front Of The Other by Griff

I’m always looking for the next thing that’s going to break me open. I use art as emotional catharsis. I never know what the medium is going to be—the truth just has a way of finding me and it never comes unprepared.

I’m always looking for the next thing that’s going to break me open.

That said, One Foot In Front Of The Other is the perfect mixtape for Sad Girl Summer and I am here for it. Bring on The Purge (of feelings, that is). There’s a desperation in Griff’s voice. An overflowing melancholy colors every lyric on every track. But there’s also hope—buckets of it. And resilience. And it overpowers everything else.

It’s somewhat of a disservice to Griff (real name Sarah Griffiths) to compare her to her forebears or contemporaries, but nevertheless her sound is familiar in an endearing, ear-tickling way. There’s some 1989 and reputation-era Taylor Swift here. Some Lorde, though more Melodrama than Pure Heroine. A dollop of Billie Eilish and a sprinkling of Lana Del Rey. Halsey hangs at the edge of the frame of tracks like “Earl Grey Tea”. Some of the production on the last track sounds like Bleachers.

I’ve tried to pray / I’ve bruised my knees / I’ve tried to bring you back to me

Black Hole by Griff

All in all, it’s just a really great time to be an angsty songstress. She brings to mind a couple of noteworthy contemporaries; namely, FLETCHER and ELIO, but also Olivia Rodrigo without all the rage. Her alchemy, though, is all her own.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please follow, like, comment, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at thevoraciousbibliophile@yahoo.com or catch me on Twitter @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.