WEEK 32 / 30 JANUARY – 5 FEBRUARY 2015

218 FRIDAY 30 JANUARY 2015

There’s No Place Like Home – Orchestra

Lost - Season 4 (Original Television Soundtrack)

Nothing says “Lost” as this flawless evocative composition by Michael Giacchino. It was first used as the ‘Oceanic Six’, the only survivors who are able to make it out of the island, return to civilisation. From then on, the theme became an intrinsic part of the rest of the show’s run. It was repeatedly used with different variations.

Just as last week’s “King’s Fate – Prince’s Future – Kralahome’s Demise – Anna’s Surprise” was in the background while I wrote a passage of my novel, “The Return Of The Army Of Light”; There’s No Place Like Home also played a role while I wrote another extract of the story.

Peter and Justin have been cruising each other for weeks on the Number 11 Tram in Wellington. They haven’t said a word to each other. One day, Peter decides to end the nonsense. On that day, May 1st, 1964, he’ll introduce himself, he wants to get to know Justin. This day may be the last chance he’ll have to do it. In 24 hours, after nearly 60 years, the number 11 will run through the streets of Wellington for the last time.

You can read the excerpt here: There’s No Place Like Home

Song Title: There’s No Place Like Home – 2008   Genre: Soundtrack   Artist: Orchestra   Composer: Michael Giacchino   Album: Lost – Season 4 (Original Television Soundtrack)


Steal Your Rock ‘N’ Roll – Montego Glover, Chad Kimball

Memphis_ A New Musical (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

“Memphis” is a Broadway musical that I saw by accident. I was standing in line at the TKTS booth in Time Square on a frigid afternoon in January 2010 and, as I recall, it was the only show that seemed mildly interesting. The play tells the story of Huey Calhoun a white DJ, who plays black music on the radio, back in the days when rock ‘n’ roll started its crusade to win over the radio waves.

Although it was a pleasant theatrical experience, I didn’t think much of the show. As you may have noticed, rock ‘n’ roll is not my thing. However, this song, Steal Your Rock ‘N’ Roll, got stuck in my head for days after I had seen the show. I guess it was its triumphant almost gospel-like message of self-assurance what got me going. I tend to go a little bit blue when I travel, not sure why, so this ditty lifted me up for the rest of my bi-yearly pilgrimage to America.

Song Title: Steal Your Rock ‘N’ Roll – 2009   Genre: Musical   Artist: Montego Glover, Chad Kimball   Composer: David Bryan   Lyricists: Joe DiPietro, David Bryan   Album: Memphis: A New Musical (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

Favourite Lyrics: I swallowed my fear / Followed my heart right here / And through it all / One Almighty thought stood clear / Listen to the beat / Listen to the beat / Play it / (Play it) / Obey it / (Obey it) / Love it with / Love it with your feet / Ohh, oh, oh, Listen to your soul / Listen to your soul


I’m Always Chasing Rainbows – Sumi Jo

Mildred Pierce (Music from the HBO Miniseries)

I had always known this song, and I had considered it to be cute. However, this version, by coloratura soprano Sumi Jo, floored me when I first heard it.  It is as if I finally got what the lyrics were about.

I’m not one to complain about my misfortunes. I suppose it’s a leftover from my Catholic upbringing, but man, there have been times when I have said: “geez, could this get any worse?”

It is not as if I feel that others have it easier than me. However, I often feel I have to go an extra mile or do an extra step to achieve what I want. To paraphrase the lyrics I’ve quoted below, although I always find the sunshine, I often need to wait for the rain to dissipate. More often than not it is just me, playing the ‘drama queen card’. I think it is human nature to make more emphasis on the negative; we tend to focus on what goes wrong rather in what goes right. We can see a black dot on a piece of paper, but we fail to see the whiteness of the page.

A few years back, I was in desperate need of a job. I went to an interview but didn’t get the job. I was devastated. A few weeks later I was cast as a Bio Lab Scientist in the film “Avatar”; I mean how cool was that? And yet at the time, I kept feeling sorry for myself. This was only a temporary gig, I was already strategizing my next moves and wasn’t enjoying my film experience. It took me a few days to realise how fortunate I was to be working with James Cameron on a small set for almost a month. The movie went on to become a blockbuster, the highest grossing film of all-time, as a matter of fact; and although, if you blink you’ll miss me, I’m there. I exist in a few frames of this groundbreaking movie that change the way people make films now.

In the larger scope of things, it was more important to have been part of that endeavour than getting a job at the time. Life often plays like that, it throws at you what you think is a consolation prize, but in reality, it is giving you a good one, so enjoy it.

Song Title: I’m Always Chasing Rainbows – 1917   Genre: Musical   Artist: Sumi Jo   Composer:* Henry Carroll   Lyricist: Joseph McCarthy   Album: Mildred Pierce (Music from the HBO Miniseries)

Favourite Lyrics: Some fellows look and find the sunshine / I always look and find the rain / Some fellows make a winning sometime / I never even make a gain, believe me

*Music based on Fantaisie-Impromptu (1834) by Frédéric Chopin


Volver – Luis Miguel

Mis Romances

I’m not even sure how this Luis Miguel album ended up in my library, but I’m glad it did. I grew up listening to this song; it is a favourite of my mother. She would sing it often while doing her chores around the house. Of course, she would sing it the way it was originally written, as a tango, not the bolero/ballad style that Luis Miguel has given it.

I would say Volver is a very well known tune across Latin America, in particular, the lyrics, “Veinte años no es nada” (Twenty years is nothing). The song is about coming home after a long absence and the angst that comes with it. Twenty years is nothing, and everything will be fine when you return home.

It is believed that the song was written by Carlos Gardel, the renowned Tango singer, and Alfredo LePera as they longed for their return to Buenos Aires, after what seemed a never-ending tour through the Americas and Europe. Sadly, Gardel never returned to Argentina, he died in a plane crash in Colombia in 1935 while on tour in South America. Only four weeks before, he had played my hometown, Maracaibo. My grandfather remembered seeing Gardel by accident when the star came out on his hotel balcony and waved to the hundreds of fans in a vigil in front of the Hotel Victoria in Plaza Baralt.

Song Title: Volver – 1935   Genre: Tango   Artist: Luis Miguel   Composer: Carlos Gardel   Lyricist: Alfredo LePera   Album: Mis Romances

Favourite Lyrics: Vivir / con el alma aferrada / a un dulce recuerdo / que lloro otra vez.

                      To live / with your soul clinging / to a sweet memory / for which I cry again.


I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face – Rex Harrison

My Fair Lady

From the marvellous and lovely “My Fair Lady”, I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face can easily be considered as a male’s “Rose’s Turn”. (You know it; ‘ready or not, here comes mama!’ If you don’t, it will make it to the list on Week 40)

This soliloquy is an expression of the visceral reaction Professor Higgins has when Eliza Doolittle, the woman he’s transformed from a classless flower seller into a refined lady, tells him she’s marrying Freddy Eynsford-Hill.

Just as in “Rose’s Turn”, where Rose, feeling she’s been put on the sidelines by her daughter Gypsy Rose Lee, goes through a rollercoaster of emotions; Higgins steps around different emotional stages when he realises he’s in love with the woman who’s just walked out on him.

Not much different from what we’ve gone through after being ditched by a lover.

Damn! Damn! Damn! Damn! / I’ve grown accustomed to her face. – First, there’s anger when he realises how much of a fool he’s been for not recognising beforehand he is in love with Eliza.

I was serenely independent and content before we met; / Surely, I could always be that way again- / And yet / I’ve grown accustomed to her look; / Accustomed to her voice; / Accustomed to her face. – Second, there’s sadness and almost a feeling of hopelessness.

In a year, or so, when she’s prematurely grey, / And the blossom in her cheek has turned to chalk. / She’ll come home, and lo, he’ll have upped and run away / With a social-climbing heiress from New York. – Third, Higgins turns judgemental. This is the part when we, regular folks, would phone our friends to bitch about our ex-lover. Higgins goes ahead to play the worst-case scenario, and even takes an absolute delight in forecasting nothing but misery for Eliza and Freddy.

How poignant it’ll be on that inevitable night / When she hammers on my door in tears and rags. / Miserable and lonely, repentant and contrite. / Will I take her in or hurl her to the walls? / Give her kindness or the treatment she deserves? – Fourth, he visualises what he’d do if she ever comes back.

But, I shall never take her back, / If she were even crawling on her knees. / Let her promise to atone; / Let her shiver, let her moan; – Fifth, resolution and determination to move on.

I’m very grateful she’s a woman / And so easy to forget; / Rather like a habit / One can always break- / And yet, / I’ve grown accustomed to the trace / Of something in the air; / Accustomed to her face. – Finally, there’s acceptance and a realisation that heartache won’t go away on command.    

Song Title: I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face – 1956   Genre: Musical   Artist: Rex Harrison   Composer: Frederick Loewe   Lyricist: Alan Jay Lerner   Album: My Fair Lady

Favourite Lyrics: But I’m so used to hear her say / “Good morning” ev’ry day / Her joys, her woes / Her highs, her lows / Are second nature to me now / Like breathing out and breathing in / I’m very grateful she’s a woman / And so easy to forget / Rather like a habit / One can always break- / And yet / I’ve grown accustomed to the trace / Of something in the air / Accustomed to her face.


Piazza – Orchestra

Nurse Betty Soundtrack

Between November 2001 and February 2002, I travelled through four countries in Latin America and the Caribbean shooting a documentary about AIDS in the region. The project took me, along with my producer and friend, Alejandra, through four countries: Argentina, Brazil, Guatemala and Barbados.

What started just as another assignment from one of the many departments of the Inter-American Development Bank, ended up being the most fulfilling experience that I had in the 11 years that I worked for the institution. Although we wanted to feature personal stories, our primary objective was to take a look at how people infected with HIV were treated by society and how AIDS as an epidemic was affecting the development and economic growth of the region.

In Buenos Aires, we went to a destitute neighbourhood where mothers educated their children in AIDS prevention. We met a group of gay doctors and social workers that offered medical and psychological assistance to infected men, gay and straight, and their partners. We also visited the sexual workers association, an organisation that made sure their members always had safe sex, not only at work but also at home with their partners. There was also a group of fierce transgender women battling for better health care, legal rights and social acceptance. We went to a Catholic hospice in Buenos Aires that took in young men who were infected. It came as a surprise to learn that the Catholic Church was the world’s largest provider of care to people living with HIV/AIDS.

In Rio de Janeiro, we spent a Friday night distributing condoms in Copacabana Beach among sex workers, who also told us their stories. We also visited a pharmaceutical lab that, at the risk of being sued, challenged big international laboratories and started producing generic medications to sell at a low cost to people with HIV/AIDS in Brazil for their treatment.

Guatemala was the one that hit us the hardest. We met children who were infected and had their days numbered. I couldn’t contain my tears as an HIV-infected mother recounted how her six-year-old daughter had been raped and infected by her own father. As if that weren’t bad enough when their condition became public, neighbours started to discriminate and ridicule them openly, and the children were expelled from school. In an act of desperation, the mother tried to kill her and her girls several times. She would take the girls to a busy part of town during rush hour and they’d just walk into the traffic. The little girl and her older sister would resist and scream, but the mother was resolute to end their misery. The little girl died at 12.

In Barbados, the Prime Minister had made AIDS a priority and had brought the National AIDS Office into his own bureau, making it his very own responsibility. We visited a colony on the beach, where people who had been deserted by their families could go live and receive care.

Many details of the trip are etched in my memory. We met infected women and heard their stories. They told us how their husbands infected them and how very little say they had when it came to safe sex with their own partners. Moreover, we also heard stories of women in their 50s and 60s having to tell their children, and grandchildren, that they had been infected. Gay groups in Argentina did not want tolerance, but respect, period. Tolerance left room for judgement; respect was unconditional. Applicants had to take HIV tests when applying for jobs. If they were positive, not only they wouldn’t hire them, but nobody would tell them they were infected. A doctor told us about heterosexual males inability to cope emotionally with the disease. We heard about that a large number of orphans was being created as a result of many children losing both parents to AIDS. Flamboyant or effeminate men would have to wait longer for treatment in some health facilities. Suicide was high not for fear of death, but for fear of society’s mistreatment. Family neglected relatives, not even touching them, for fear of contracting HIV. All boiled down to lack of education programmes.

Working on this documentary was one of the most enriching experiences that I’ve had in my professional life. I wish I could have another experience like that, at least one last time before I retire.

Piazza was part of the temp soundtrack I used for the first cut of the documentary.

Song Title: Piazza – 2000   Genre: Soundtrack   Artist: Orchestra   Composer: Rolf Kent   Album: Nurse Betty Soundtrack


Mas Que Nada – Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66

PAN AM (Music From and Inspired By the Original Series) [Booklet Version]

Although Mas Que Nada has been a part of my life since I was a kid, I was surprised to realise that it only recently made it to my iTunes library. Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 was big when I was growing up. His music introduced me to Brazil’s idiosyncratic sounds.

Song Title: Mas Que Nada – 1963   Genre: Samba   Artist: Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66   Composer: Jorge Ben   Lyricist: Jorge Ben   Album: PAN AM (Music From and Inspired By the Original Series) [Booklet Version]

Favourite Lyrics: Mas que nada / Um samba como esse tão legal / Você não vai querer / Que eu chegue no final

                            Above all / A samba like this is so cool / That you will not want me / To get at the end