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Results 26 - 50 of 68,756
26. Certain Songs #518: Prince & The Revolution – “Purple Rain”

Prince purple rain Album: Purple Rain
Year: 1984

Literally don’t even know where to start here. How about this: this was Prince’s signature song. Sure, he had bigger singles (and in fact, cutting the “Purple Rain” down to 4:05 for its single was as stupid as when The Who cut “Won’t Get Fooled Again” down to 3:36, I mean why even bother?), but I don’t think he had a bigger song. On every level.

I mean, you could imagine going to a Prince concert and not seeing any other song, but going to a Prince concert and not seeing “Purple Rain” seems totally unimaginable.

I don’t know, of course, because the only Prince concert I ever saw was when Tim & I saw the infamous opening set for the Rolling Stones. You know, where the fucking “only one way to rock” assholes booed and booed and threw stuff at him.

I don’t think I had heard Prince yet, but I certainly had been reading about him in the wake of Dirty Mind, and I was dead curious. At the time, I was more dismayed at the booing, and I seem to recall that the sound volume was underwhelming, to boot. All in all, all I knew for sure was that Prince in 1981 was a thing I didn’t quite get.

But as always, I assumed that was on me.

Meanwhile, I’ve often wondered how many of the bros who booed him ended up loving him just a few years later. I’d like to think all of them, but that’s probably optimistic. At least some of them, right?

I mean, how can you not love “Purple Rain?”

First off, it’s got that big, repeaty gospelish chorus, with a shitton of reverb on Prince as if he’s preaching from a radio station that’s beaming god’s own word directly into our souls.

And then there’s the guitar solo, which — along with the equally transcendent “whoooo-hooo-hooo-hooos” — dominates the back half of the song.

I’ve just now made up a theory that iconic guitar solos often fall into one of two categories. There are the ones that build and build into their climax: you know, like “Stairway to Heaven” or “Rock Bottom.” Then there are those ones that kind of meander out ahead of the song for a while until the song catches back up with them, like “Down by The River” or “Marquee Moon.”

While “Purple Rain” is closer to the latter than the former, it charts a different path. It starts off wandering around, flirts with the conventional “deedleley-deedlely-deedleley” for a bit, but settles instead for a repeating phrase that anchors the rest of the song.

It is, of course, the sound of the purple rain falling from the skies. What else could it be?

That’s what’s on the album, and the film. And, of course, the performance in the film was transcendent enough to justify all of the self-indulgence that preceded it.

One of the tropes that’s been resurrected in the wake of Prince’s passing was that 1984 was one of the greatest years ever for pop music, what with the waning of Thriller coinciding with Purple Rain, Like a Virgin and Born in the U.S.A., to say nothing of Cyndi Lauper, Tina Turner, The Police and Van Halen.

All I can say is, sure why not? These things are nearly impossible to quantify, but there was great music everywhere in 1984, coming from every part of the dial and still spewing 24 hours a day from the MTV, and it sure seemed like the confluence of “good” and “popular” was extremely high that year.

So if you could somehow create a graph of 1984 in music with “Good” as the X-axis and “Popular” as the Y-axis, there would probably be an abnormally high number of entires in the upper right-hand quadrant. And uppermost, of course, would be Purple Rain.


“Purple Rain” from the film


“Purple Rain” live at the American Music Awards, 1985

“Purple Rain” performed at the Super Bowl, 2007

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #518: Prince & The Revolution – “Purple Rain” appeared first on Booksquare.

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27. A prickly pair: Helmut Schmidt and Jimmy Carter

Helmut Schmidt and Jimmy Carter never got on. Theirs was, in fact, one of the most explosive relationships in postwar, transatlantic history and it strained to the limit the bond between West Germany and America. The problems all started before Carter became president, when the German chancellor unwisely chose to meddle in American electoral politics.

The post A prickly pair: Helmut Schmidt and Jimmy Carter appeared first on OUPblog.

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28. Prize: Wellcome Book Prize

       They've announced the winner of this year's Wellcome Book Prize (for a book with a: "central theme that engages with some aspect of medicine, health or illness"), and the £30,000 prize goes to It's All in Your Head (by Suzanne O'Sullivan).
       The US edition is only due out in 2017 (pre-order your copy at Amazon.com), but it's out in paperback in the UK; get your copy at Amazon.co.uk.

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29. MOOCs and higher education: evolution or revolution?

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) burst into the public consciousness in 2012 after feverish press reports about elite US universities offering free courses, through the Internet, to hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) course on Circuits and Electronics that had attracted 155,000 registrations was a typical example. Pundits proclaimed a revolution in higher education and numerous universities, fearful of being left behind, joined a rush to offer MOOCs.

The post MOOCs and higher education: evolution or revolution? appeared first on OUPblog.

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30. A new European Regulation on insolvency proceedings

In June 2015, EU Regulation 2015/848 of 20 May 2015 on insolvency proceedings entered into force. This Regulation reformed – or, to be more precise, recast – EC Regulation 1346/2000, in order to tackle in a much more modern way cross-border insolvency cases involving at least one Member State of the EU (except Denmark).

The post A new European Regulation on insolvency proceedings appeared first on OUPblog.

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31. Prize: International Prize for Arabic Fiction

       They've announced that Destinies: Concerto of the Holocaust and the Nakba [مصائر: كونشرتو الهولوكوست والنكبة] by Rabai al-Madhoun has won this year's International Prize for Arabic Fiction.
       The US$50,000 award is one of the leading Arabic literature prizes, and does the best job of publicizing winning works abroad, with most of them appearing in translation in a variety of languages.
       The winning author is not unknown in English, as Telegram published his (IPAF shortlisted) The Lady from Tel Aviv a few years ago; see their publicity page, and get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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32. The quest for a malaria vaccine continues

The 2016 World Malaria Report estimates that there were approximately 215 million cases of malaria and 438,000 deaths in 2015. The majority of deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa and among young children, and malaria remains endemic in around 100 countries with over three billion people at risk. Over the past 15 years there have been major gains in reducing the global burden of malaria

The post The quest for a malaria vaccine continues appeared first on OUPblog.

0 Comments on The quest for a malaria vaccine continues as of 4/25/2016 8:16:00 AM
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33. Certain Songs #519: Prince & The Revolution – “Kiss”

Prince kiss Album: Parade
Year: 1986

It took Michael Jackson five years to follow up Thriller. It took Bruce Springsteen three years to follow up Born In The U.S.A. It took Madonna two years to follow up Like a Virgin.

It took Prince ten months to follow up Purple Rain.

That said, after I heard the underwhelming (despite the pure pop glory of “Raspberry Beret”) Around The World in a Day, I started a pattern with Prince that I’ve kept up for three decades: I started dipping in and out of his discography.

Basically, if the critical & cultural buzz was that I needed to check a Prince album out, I did. If not, then I didn’t. After all, there was always a new one right around the corner. For 30 years!

The good and bad news is, of course, is that there are two major swaths of Prince’s career I’ve never (or barely) heard. The Black Album Come. EmancipationN.E.W.S. And while Musicology got me interested again, and I flat-out love Planet Earth I’ve still missed at least half of his output from the last decade.

What all of this means is that I pretty much ignored “Kiss” during its heyday. To be slightly fair to me, the spring of 1986 was a relatively chaotic time in my life, so I didn’t have as much time to devote to anything musically but my core 1980s people.

So I didn’t even really hear “Kiss” until I bought The Hits, the crazy-making singles compilation that shoots itself in the foot by not being in chronological order.

In any event, I’m not even sure I was ready for “Kiss” in 1986. With its spare structure, super-funky guitar and throw-back falsetto, I’m not sure my reference points were there yet.

All these years later, after a couple of decades of digging into the classic soul and funk songs that clearly inspired “Kiss,” I totally get how awesome it is.

Combining one of his most melodic choruses with a free-flowing, slightly off-beat beat and a — for Prince — love > sex lyric, “Kiss” is the primary reason that Parade was the first of the Prince albums that I bought to start filling in the gaps.

Official video for “Kiss”

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #519: Prince & The Revolution – “Kiss” appeared first on Booksquare.

0 Comments on Certain Songs #519: Prince & The Revolution – “Kiss” as of 4/28/2016 8:58:00 PM
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34. Q & A: Barbara Epler

       At the Asymptote blog Frances Riddle has a Q & A with New Directions-publisher Barbara Epler, in Publisher Profile: New Directions
       Lots of interesting observations and comments -- and among the most exciting is the mention that New Directions will be publishing (along with books by many other wonderful authors) some more by much-admired-hereabouts Shyness and Dignity-author Dag Solstad.

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35. The Poetic Edda, Game of Thrones, and Ragnarök

Season Six of Game of Thrones is about to air. One of the great pleasures of watching the show is the way in which George R. R. Martin, the author of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, and the show-producers, David Benioff and Dan Weiss, build their imagined world from the real and […]

The post The Poetic Edda, Game of Thrones, and Ragnarök appeared first on OUPblog.

0 Comments on The Poetic Edda, Game of Thrones, and Ragnarök as of 4/27/2016 7:08:00 AM
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36. Certain Songs #517: Prince & The Revolution – “When Doves Cry”

Prince when-doves-cry Album: Purple Rain
Year: 1984

The utterly monster lead single from the quintillion-platinum Purple Rain, “When Doves Cry” is the sound of Prince having it … I was gonna say “both ways,” but we all know that “both ways” was probably boring to Prince.

So let’s just say that Prince had it every single fucking way he wanted with “When Doves Cry.”

A dance song with no bassline? Check.

Insane lead guitar over funky electronic drums? Check.

A single that was #1 for over a month but also almost six minutes long? Check.

A massively popular video with homoerotic imagery? Check.

Bringing his bandmates for a video of a song where he played all of the instruments? Check.

A fucksong with incredibly sad lyrics? Check. And mate. Lots of mate.

How can you just leave me standing?
Alone in a world that’s so cold? (So cold)
Maybe I’m just too demanding
Maybe I’m just like my father too bold
Maybe you’re just like my mother
She’s never satisfied (She’s never satisfied)
Why do we scream at each other?
This is what it sounds like
When doves cry

And that chorus, with its massive overdubbed Princes all singing in perfect harmonies, and the momentum moving ever forward pushed by a single keyboard was so completely overpowering that nobody gave a shit what “when doves cry” actually meant.

Also: all of those vocal interjections, the “whoos” and the “doobie do wahs” completely gloss over the fact that the song is basically a single groove and a single melody repeated over and over and over and over driven by that damn electronic drum that sounds like random gunshots.

But Prince masks that fact by adding and subtracting instruments and vocals so masterfully that when he breaks it down near the end, it’s almost a shock.

“When Doves Cry”

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #517: Prince & The Revolution – “When Doves Cry” appeared first on Booksquare.

0 Comments on Certain Songs #517: Prince & The Revolution – “When Doves Cry” as of 1/1/1900
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37. Etymology gleanings for April 2016

Responses to my plea for suggestions concerning spelling reform were very few. I think we can expect a flood of letters of support and protest only if at least part of the much-hoped-for change reaches the stage of implementation. I received one letter telling me to stop bothering about nonsense and to begin doing something sensible.

The post Etymology gleanings for April 2016 appeared first on OUPblog.

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38. Q & A: Me

       At the Columbia University Press blog they have An Interview with M. A. Orthofer, author of The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction -- about the site, the book, and international fiction.

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39. Prize: Austrian State Prize for European Literature

       The Austrian State Prize for European Literature only honors European authors, but as that list of previous winners shows, they have a pretty damn good track record.
       They've now announced the 2016 winner -- albeit only in a ridiculous summary-press release unworthy of the prize -- and it's Polish author Andrzej Stasiuk, who has been reasonably well translated into English. Two of his books are under review at the complete review: Fado and Nine.

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40. Prizes: Hugo Awards finalists

       They've announced the finalists for the 2016 Hugo Awards -- and there's even one of the novel finalists under review at the complete review, Seveneves by Neal Stephenson.
       Apparently, there are issues regarding the voting process and campaigns by groups -- of 'Sad Puppies' and 'Rabid Puppies' -- but it's all rather beyond me; see, for example, David Barnett on Hugo awards shortlist dominated by rightwing campaign in The Guardian.

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41. A tale of two cities: Anzac Day and the Easter Rising

On 25 April 1916, 2,000 Australian and New Zealand troops marched through London towards a service at Westminster Abbey attended by the King and Queen. One of the soldiers later recalled the celebratory atmosphere of the day. This was the first Anzac Day. A year earlier, Australian soldiers had been the first to land on the Gallipoli peninsula as part of an attempt by the combined forces of the British and French empires to invade the Ottoman Empire.

The post A tale of two cities: Anzac Day and the Easter Rising appeared first on OUPblog.

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42. Certain Songs #518: Prince & The Revolution – “Purple Rain”

Prince purple rain Album: Purple Rain
Year: 1984

Literally don’t even know where to start here. How about this: this was Prince’s signature song. Sure, he had bigger singles (and in fact, cutting the “Purple Rain” down to 4:05 for its single was as stupid as when The Who cut “Won’t Get Fooled Again” down to 3:36, I mean why even bother?), but I don’t think he had a bigger song. On every level.

I mean, you could imagine going to a Prince concert and not seeing any other song, but going to a Prince concert and not seeing “Purple Rain” seems totally unimaginable.

I don’t know, of course, because the only Prince concert I ever saw was when Tim & I saw the infamous opening set for the Rolling Stones. You know, where the fucking “only one way to rock” assholes booed and booed and threw stuff at him.

I don’t think I had heard Prince yet, but I certainly had been reading about him in the wake of Dirty Mind, and I was dead curious. At the time, I was more dismayed at the booing, and I seem to recall that the sound volume was underwhelming, to boot. All in all, all I knew for sure was that Prince in 1981 was a thing I didn’t quite get.

But as always, I assumed that was on me.

Meanwhile, I’ve often wondered how many of the bros who booed him ended up loving him just a few years later. I’d like to think all of them, but that’s probably optimistic. At least some of them, right?

I mean, how can you not love “Purple Rain?”

First off, it’s got that big, repeaty gospelish chorus, with a shitton of reverb on Prince as if he’s preaching from a radio station that’s beaming god’s own word directly into our souls.

And then there’s the guitar solo, which — along with the equally transcendent “whoooo-hooo-hooo-hooos” — dominates the back half of the song.

I’ve just now made up a theory that iconic guitar solos often fall into one of two categories. There are the ones that build and build into they climax: you know, like “Stairway to Heaven” or “Rock Bottom.” Then there are those ones that kind of meander out ahead of the song for a while until the song catches back up with them, like “Down by The River” or “Marquee Moon.”

While “Purple Rain” is closer to the latter than the former, it charts a different path. It starts off wandering around, flirts with the conventional “deedleley-deedlely-deedleley” for a bit, but settles instead for a repeating phrase that anchors the rest of the song.

It is, of course, the sound of the purple rain falling from the skies. What else could it be?

That’s what’s on the album, and the film. And, of course, the performance in the film was transcendent enough to justify all of the self-indulgence that preceded it.

One of the tropes that’s been resurrected in the wake of Prince’s passing was that 1984 was one of the greatest years ever for pop music, what with the waning of Thriller coinciding with Purple Rain, Like a Virgin and Born in the U.S.A., to say nothing of Cyndi Lauper, Tina Turner, The Police and Van Halen.

All I can say is, sure why not? These things are nearly impossible to quantify, but there was great music everywhere in 1984, coming from every part of the dial and still spewing 24 hours a day from the MTV, and it sure seemed like the confluence of “good” and “popular” was extremely high that year.

So if you could somehow create a graph of 1984 in music with “Good” as the X-axis and “Popular” as the Y-axis, there would probably be an abnormally high number of entires in the upper right-hand quadrant. And uppermost, of course, would be Purple Rain.


“Purple Rain” from the film


“Purple Rain” live at the American Music Awards, 1985

“Purple Rain” performed at the Super Bowl, 2007

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #518: Prince & The Revolution – “Purple Rain” appeared first on Booksquare.

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43. How well do you know your quotes from Down Under?

"What a good thing Adam had. When he said a good thing he knew nobody had said it before." Mark Twain put his finger on one of the minor problems for a relatively new nation: making an impact in the world of famous quotations. All the good lines seem to have already been used somewhere else, by somebody else.

The post How well do you know your quotes from Down Under? appeared first on OUPblog.

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44. Austerity and the slow recovery of European city-regions

The 2008 global economic crisis has been the most severe recession since the Great Depression. Notwithstanding its dramatic effects, cross-country analyses on its heterogeneous impacts and its potential causes are still scarce. By analysing the geography of the 2008 crisis, policy-relevant lessons can be learned on how cities and regions react to economic shocks in order to design adequate responses.

The post Austerity and the slow recovery of European city-regions appeared first on OUPblog.

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45. Prince and “the other Eighties”

Prince died Thursday, and I am sad. I've been asked to write about his death, but staring at the empty expanse beyond the flashing cursor, all I really know how to say is in the line above. Plenty of writers, more ably than I could, have written and spoken movingly about Prince since his death.

The post Prince and “the other Eighties” appeared first on OUPblog.

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46. Bioinformatics: Breaking the bottleneck for cancer research

In recent years, biological sciences have witnessed a surge in the generation of data. This trend is set to continue, heralding an increased need for bioinformatics research. By 2018, sequencing of patient genomes will likely produce one quintillion bytes of data annually – that is a million times a million times a million bytes of data. Much of this data will derive from studies of patients with cancer.

The post Bioinformatics: Breaking the bottleneck for cancer research appeared first on OUPblog.

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47. Certain Songs #517: Prince & The Revolution – “When Doves Cry”

Prince when-doves-cry Album: Purple Rain
Year: 1984

The utterly monster lead single from the quintillion-platinum Purple Rain, “When Doves Cry” is the sound of Prince having it … I was gonna say “both ways,” but we all know that “both ways” was probably boring to Prince.

So let’s just say that Prince had it every single fucking way he wanted with “When Doves Cry.”

A dance song with no bassline? Check.

Insane lead guitar over funky electronic drums? Check.

A single that was #1 for over a month but also almost six minutes long? Check.

A massively popular video with homoerotic imagery? Check.

Bringing his bandmates for a video of a song where he played all of the instruments? Check.

A fucksong with incredibly sad lyrics? Check. And mate. Lots of mate.

How can you just leave me standing?
Alone in a world that’s so cold? (So cold)
Maybe I’m just too demanding
Maybe I’m just like my father too bold
Maybe you’re just like my mother
She’s never satisfied (She’s never satisfied)
Why do we scream at each other?
This is what it sounds like
When doves cry

And that chorus, with its massive overdubbed Princes all singing in perfect harmonies, and the momentum moving ever forward pushed by a single keyboard was so completely overpowering that nobody gave a shit what “when doves cry” actually meant.

Also: all of those vocal interjections, the “whoos” and the “doobie do wahs” completely gloss over the fact that the song is basically a single groove and a single melody repeated over and over and over and over driven by that damn electronic drum that sounds like random gunshots.

But Prince masks that fact by adding and subtracting instruments and vocals so masterfully that when he breaks it down near the end, it’s almost a shock.

“When Doves Cry”

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The post Certain Songs #517: Prince & The Revolution – “When Doves Cry” appeared first on Booksquare.

0 Comments on Certain Songs #517: Prince & The Revolution – “When Doves Cry” as of 4/26/2016 7:56:00 PM
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48. Voroshilovgrad review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Ukrainian author Serhiy Zhadan's Jan Michalski Prize-winning Voroshilovgrad, just about out from Deep Vellum.

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49. Human rights and the (in)humanity at EU’s borders

The precarious humanitarian situation at Europe's borders is creating what seems to be an irresolvable tension between the interests of European states to seal off their borders and the respect for fundamental human rights. Frontex, EU's External Border Control Agency, in particular has been since its inception in 2004 embroiled in a fair amount of public controversy.

The post Human rights and the (in)humanity at EU’s borders appeared first on OUPblog.

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50. Why hasn’t the rise of new media transformed refugee status determination?

Information now moves at a much greater speed than migrants. In earlier eras, the arrival of refugees in flight was often the first indication that grave human rights abuses were underway in distant parts of the world.

The post Why hasn’t the rise of new media transformed refugee status determination? appeared first on OUPblog.

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