What Is Your Go-To Song for Battling the Winter Blues?

It’s the final week of January! How has your first month of 2019 been? Mine has been an adventure. First, I came back from the US from a holiday trip. Then I got the flu for six days and was on bedrest during that time. And now, I am deciding if I need to be looking for a new job or will be sticking around at my current position for one more year.

However, I have been hit by the winter blues lately. Have you?

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Reflecting on Aaliyah’s Musical Career on Her Birthday

It has been an eventful week here in Japan. The flu season has been very active this year as already 1.3 million people have caught the flu. I was unlucky to be one of those affected. However, it is getting better.

In the US, my home country, it wouldn’t be a big deal to have the flu. Just stay in bed, take some medicine, and you be good a new in a few days. But, here in Japan, it is a bit different. I have to take off work for up to five-seven days and be quarantined from the public as the virus is feared here.

So, to pass the time, I been watching videos on Youtube, listening to music, and just sleeping. While I was sick, I nearly forgot it was a birthday for an influential singer in the 90s. Her music was part of my music collection when I was growing up.

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Savouring the Beautiful Spring Weather with The Rippingtons’ “Sahara”

The weather here in Japan is still on a roller coaster. The days are either sweltering hot, cold with rain, windy, or sunny. Recently, the weather has been delightful. This fantastic weather means I can enjoy the pleasant spring air while listening to exhilarating pieces like today’s selection.

Sahara has two meanings in the dictionary: (a) a desert in North Africa that extends from the Atlantic to the Nile valley and (b) any arid waste. The Rippingtons’ “Sahara” doesn’t feel like a tune that fits the description of parched, barren land. Instead, it’s the exact opposite as “Sahara” is a refreshing piece that lets you indulge in the delightful weather of April.

The song starts off mellowly with Russ Freeman strumming an acoustic guitar riff that takes the lead. The bass supplies the supporting notes here and there. Meanwhile, Tony Morales and Steve Reid perform drums (mostly hi-hat) and percussion (primarily maracas and maybe a wooden block). The real action comes at the chorus. It starts off with a trombone prelude. Then, the piece suddenly changes moods as it’s loud and lively compared to the mellow verses. The chorus is exhilarating as the saxophone, performed by Jeff Kashiwa, quenches the need for an explosive climax. It also entices the listener with its sultry melody. The finale comes after a few more exchanges between verses and chorus. Instruments continue as they fade into silence. This way of ending the song makes the listener wonder what would happen if the piece carried on.

I can’t find much information on how and why this song was written in the way it was. I would call this piece more of an oasis in the desert. It relaxes, allures, and quenches the listener’s musical soul. A true exhilarating tune for spring.

Wherever You Are, I Will Never Be Forgotten (A Tribute to Maurice White)

mauricewhite

2016 has been a depressing year for the music world. We have lost so many great talents: Glenn Frey, David Bowie, Paul Kantner, Natalie Cole, and many more. The most recent star to fade was Maurice White, who died this past Friday from a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease.

White was best known as the co-lead vocalist for the disco/funk/R&B band Earth, Wind and Fire. A band who has sold over 90 million albums, singles, DVDs, cassettes, video tapes, and other media since they formed in 1969. The band is most remembered for their late 70s’ smash hits “September”, “Let’s Groove”, and “Boogie Wonderland”. White’s smooth tenor voice mixed with high pitched background vocals help to make Earth, Wind and Fire prominent in the late 70s.

One of my favorite Earth, Wind & Fire songs is “Boogie Wonderland”. I have a 12″ version of this song, which runs over eight minutes, in my music player. But, it’s never getting tiring. Its laid back, ambient feel makes “Boogie Wonderland” a pleasant tune to listen at any time.

 

By the late 80s, this groove maker’s health became worse as he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 1987. He was forced to retire from his band in 1994 and cut back his involvement in other musical projects. However, that same year, the Japanese pop band DREAMS COME TRUE released their second English single, “WHEREVER YOU ARE”, that featured White as background vocals.

“WHEREVER YOU ARE” is a perfect fit for Maurice White’s vocals as it’s a upbeat funky pop tune that shares a tiny resemblance to Earth, Wind & Fire’s popular hits.  And White’s vocals compliments Miwa Yoshida’s vocals nicely as they share color and tone. Yoshida’s vocals, unlike the high pitched of the background female vocals of such songs like “Boogie Wonderland”, has a soulful but husky timbre.

This DREAMS COME TRUE song is a must-listen as it from the era when the band produced many great songs, like the one above. You don’t have to be a Japanese music enthusiastic to enjoy splendid melodies and the immense talent from each member. But also,  “WHEREVER YOU ARE” includes a brilliant vocalist, Maurice White, whose talent will never vanished and always live on.

Don’t forgot to check out White’s mini-solo from the 1:55 mark!