Sweatpant Sessions #3–Brighter Than Sunshine

Session number three is dedicated to Chet. I sang this one last August at a cabaret/hand-fasting ceremony hosted by my parents before our wedding a week later. I prefaced it by telling the story of a road trip we had taken together, before getting engaged, where Chet informed me that he had added a schmaltzy piece to our road trip playlist. The following is that song.

Before we get to the song, though, I should mention that playlists have always been a point of contention between the two of us. Our musical interests only intersect slightly, and only with particular artists and eras. I love stuff from the 80s; weird alt-pop (some of those choices were mentioned in the previous Sweatpant Sessions post); musical theatre; modern singer-songwriters, especially along the folk-pop divide; and anything fun and boppy. Chet likes… pretty much none of that. “Fun and boppy”? Nu-uh. Weird alt-pop? No thank you. Musical theatre? Occasionally. 80s? No frickin’ way. Chet likes a strong rhythm section; pop punk; classic rock (no, 80s rock doesn’t generally count); and the 90s (but not the fun girl and boy band 90s–the grunge 90s). At least there are some areas where our musical interests are copacetic–it helps that I’m fairly easy going about music, and can put up with mostly anything so long as it doesn’t make my ears bleed. This song is one that works for both of us–decent melody, lyrics, and vocals for me, all the 90s/early 00s vibes for Chet.

So here’s Aqualung’s “Brighter Than Sunshine.”

Sweatpant Sessions #2–Wuthering Heights

Kate Bush is one of my all-time favourite artists. I remember listening to her “The Whole Story” album on family road trips, which my parents had bought in a bout of nostalgia. 

It was also the mixed influence of Kate Bush and my dad that introduced me to Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. It was while listening to Kate Bush’s song of the same title that my dad announced the novel was one of his favourites, and being a big ol’ daddy’s girl, I immediately had to get my hands on this book. Which I ended up loving, reading multiple times throughout the years, and writing a one-woman show about.

Beyond that, Kate Bush has had an influence on me as an artist of originality and theatricality. I love the “weirdness” of her work, including the strange movie she made in the ‘90s and the amazing three-disc concert album of her “Before the Dawn” concerts a few years ago. She is one of a group of female artists who I adore for the theatrical nature of their music and the generous use of head voice (thank goodness!). Other artists in this company include Regina Spektor, Laura Nyro, and Joni Mitchell. It’s the intersection of musical theatre and pop/folk/indie songwriting that I love. It feels like music that I can really sing.

So here’s the song that started it all; Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights.”

Sweatpant Sessions #1–Nightswimming

Welcome to [the Official] Part 1 of my “Sweatpant Sessions”! This one goes out to my brother, Nathan (Natey), and to my cousins on mom’s side of the family. Hopefully no one finds this story too embarrassing…

Back when we were all energetic, innocent kids, the whole troupe of us decided to go skinny-dipping one night when our extended family was camping at Kootenay Lake. It started with a game of poker, which we jokingly called “strip poker,” but of course none of us actually wanted to take any clothes off when we lost a hand. Instead, we decided the compromise would be that the loser had to go for a naked swim after dark. 

One of the younger cousins ended up losing, and for the sake of moral support, we decided we couldn’t send him off alone, so it became a group cousin skinny-dipping session. After the sun had set, and adults were starting to settle in for the night in campers or in front of campfires, the six of us snuck out onto the rocks, leaving our bathing suits behind and slipping into the cold nighttime water. The youngest of my cousins (at least, the youngest of the group involved) was afraid to be in the water at night, so he was nominated to stay up on one of the rocks shining a flashlight down at us. The point of this was to create safe passage up and down the rocks, but of course he caught plenty of nude scrambling up and down in his spotlight, and would giggle and shine it at those of us in the water doing dolphin dives–sticking bare bums into the air in the glow of the flashlight and making jokes about the “full moon.”

Nowadays, when people mention skinny-dipping with a suggestive wink or eyebrow raise, I just think of this happy innocent time in my childhood. Cousin bonding in the waters of Kootenay Lake. As I said before, hopefully the innocence and joyfulness of the story keeps it from being too embarrassing for any of those involved.

This song, Nightswimming, by R.E.M. was introduced to me by Natey who-knows-how-many years ago. R.E.M. is one of his favourite groups, but it wasn’t their version that first got me into the song. It was a cover that Ingrid Michaelson did where she looped all of the background parts–all done vocally, completely acapella. I’m afraid I don’t have the technology or skill to imitate her cover, but here’s one of my own: