3 for Free: Music! Music! and More Music!!

The iOS digiverse is a wild and wooly place. One minute you could be mining asteroids in some far off corner of space, the next reminiscing about an early morning kayak excursion with friends, and then find yourself cringing in fear as a 300 pound zombie lurches towards you on some dark street. All the while you could be listening to Counting Crows, Bobby McFerrin, or Lil Wayne.

It seems that no matter where we are or what we do, there’s always music. It’s as if life—real life—is imitating the lives we see on the big and small screens. Our lives have personal soundtracks. Each tune custom tailored to fit our current moods and movements. The world beyond the earbuds may be filled with idiots, but inside your sonic cocoon all is as you want it to be. Peaceful and melodic. Angry and loud. Fun and quirky. Sentimental and nostalgic. Tap up a tune to fit your disposition.

Some people like an endless variety of music. They seldom want to hear the same thing twice. They enjoy music in the moment, then move on.

That’s not me. I like to play a tune over and over until I get sick of it. Then I wait a few months and do it all again. Each time I listen I hear something I hadn’t heard before.

Sometimes I listen to the instruments, marveling at the complexity and precision at which the artist executes his or her sounds. Other times I concentrate on the words, which will as often as not have some meaning for my mood or moment. Of course, that meaning becomes seriously suspect if I’ve heard the lyrics wrong, and that happens far more than I like to admit.

For instance, I never could understand the first part of Southern Cross (Crosby, Stills and Nash), so the meaning of the chorus made little sense to me. The second part was a bit more intelligible; some guy sees the Southern Cross, which confirms his love of travel and the sea. I get that. From the bits and pieces of the rest of the lyrics I believe the song implies that the guy is running from a relationship. I get that too.

After reading the lyrics recently (dunno what took me so long to look them up) I finally understand what the beginning of the tune was about and how it fits in.

The first part is:
Got out of town on a boat goin’ to Southern islands.
Sailing a reach before a followin’ sea.
She was makin’ for the trades on the outside,
And the downhill run to Papeete.

Off the wind on this heading lie the Marquesas.
We got eighty feet of the waterline.
Nicely making way.
In a noisy bar in Avalon I tried to call you.
But on a midnight watch I realized why twice you ran away.

Think about how many times I have fallen
Spirits are using me, larger voices callin’.
What heaven brought you and me cannot be forgotten.

Great lyrics, and it turns out I was close in what I thought the song was about, but it would have had far more meaning to me if I had learned the words before I actually saw the Southern Cross.

Anyway, however you enjoy music doesn’t matter, when you do it becomes personal. This week on Free on iTunes I’m pointing out 3 new songs you might want to add to your collection because no matter how you listen to your music, the more variety, the better.

First up is Shooting the Moon, by Mona.

Shooting the Moon

It’s got a nice rock beat with driving guitar work. The cadence of the lyrics borrows heavily from rap. In fact, the group doesn’t so much sing the words but yell them in rhythm (which is rap). That’s not a slight, that’s what’s popular today, and Mona should find a large audience.

I can’t understand the words (never could understand most rap tunes either) and I had to look them up. The song’s about revenge. Not sure where that fits in your daily soundtrack, but I’m a fan of the beat. You might be too so check it out.

If you’re looking for something with an equally nice beat, but a little less vengeful then check out Scavenger, by School of Seven Bells.


Looking at the album cover and reading the the band’s name you’d think this tune would be a New Age-ish ditty full of wind chimes and whale farts. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The song’s about a woman scorned. Hopefully, that’s not your mood today (or ever), but sonically, the tune is a good one. You can dance to it if you feel up to it. I’m a fan of the voice of lead singer, Alejandra Dehenza (nice name too). A good freebie.

This last tune isn’t exactly an iTunes freebie, you’ll actually have to get up and get out of the house to get it. Whether it’s worth the effort, I’ll let you decide.

Starbucks gives out free songs. At the counter there are “Pick of the Week” cards with a redeem code on the back. A great way to get exposed to new music.

This week’s song is called Banjo, by Leonard Cohen. It’s a slow, folksy piece that, once again, is spare of upbeat lyrics.

You’d think with a title like Banjo this tune would be a bit more… buoyant. I mean, really, when I think of banjo music I think of cheerful, plucky tunes. The only time I’d get any sense of foreboding is if I encountered it being played by a blind kid sitting in a tree in the middle of some hilly forrest.

Still, I like the instrumentation in Banjo if not the words. It isn’t something I want to listen to many times, unless I’m in a morose mood, or contemplating someone’s demise. (“A broken banjo bobbing on the dark infested sea.” Cheery!)


Hopefully next week’s tunes are a bit happier.

That’s a wrap for this week.

More free music related stuff below with direct links.