wonders never cease
Friday, January 8, 2010
FRIDAY, JANUARY 8th, 2010 play list of the week: mona lisa, mona lisa, mona liiiiiiiisa.
[caption id="attachment_2790" align="alignleft" width="337" caption="click to listen"]
[/caption]Fancy our delight when we realized that the later-than-usual posting of this play list corresponds perfectly with its theme! On this day in 1963, Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" was unveiled at the National Gallery of Art here in Washington, DC. "Lisa Fever" swept the nation as millions of Americans queued up to see the canvas, presented for the first time ever in the United States as a personal gift to the Kennedys. The "Mona Lisa" has been back home in Paris for years now, but its influence is universal, not restricted to the lucky folks traipsing through the Louvre. So in a nod to this day in history, we present a list of songs that pay homage to that sneaky gal with the famous smile.
1. "Mona Lisa" - Nat King Cole
Mr. Cole is a favorite to start many of these play lists, so why stop now? Plus, this tune is an ACADEMY AWARD WINNER, written for the war drama Captain Carey, USA. Cole croons as gracefully as ever, asking the object of his desire if she's real "or just a cold and lonely, lovely work of art." The whole thing sails along in the fashion typical of that time: a pretty melody, a pretty rhyme-scheme, and a pretty instrumental break for the strings. (Hm. Not nearly as enigmatic as its namesake, really.)
2. "Black Mona Lisa" - Lamya
Lamya was raised in the UK, but was born in Kenya, and you can hear these disparate geographies collide in her R&B stylings. She died unexpectedly in January of 2009, leaving us with only one album, 2002's Learning from Falling, from whence comes this track. Here, the "Kenyan BjГ¶rk" meditates on love and loss and closes with a nifty little tribute to Nat King Cole's song described above. Clever and mysterious, that one. Just like da Vinci's model! (Do you like what we did there?)
3. "Mona Lisa" - All American Rejects
This is one of those songs that features surprisingly touching lyrics ("you can sit beside me when the world comes down," "all I need is next to me," etc., etc.), even as it threatens to get stuck in your head FOREVER, with its incessant guitar-strumming and chorus-repeats. Not sure why it's named after the "Mona Lisa," but perhaps that's all part of some elaborate mystery. (Probably not, though.)
4. "A Mona Lisa" - Counting Crows
In this unreleased track, Adam Duritz likens himself to Leonardo, passing his days with an unfeeling Lisa, as he paints and hangs on a wall. Symbolic stuff.
5. "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters" - Elton John
Yes, this song was on a previous play list. But you have to give us (or Elton John) credit for finding a song that so directly relates to this play list's theme AND our profession.
6. Suite from Mona Lisa Smile
A lovely instrumental theme from a somewhat forgettable movie. Remember? It's the one about Julia Roberts opening the eyes of clever prep school girls in a myopic society. (And Julia Stiles was there. Whatever happened to her?)
7. "Mona Lisa" - Britney Spears
Yes, it's Britney Spears. On our play list. While you may not all enjoy pumping up her particular jams, you have to hand it to her: she has incredible staying power and a knack for pulling herself from the brink of obsolescence every few years. Head-shaving, "exhaustion," walking barefoot into a public restroom at a gas station, Starbucks frappuccinos...all gems. Maybe she should take a cue from our girl Lisa: the public likes a little mystery, Britney.
8. "Mona Lisa" - Slick Rick
From an MC who's had his share of personal troubles. Slick Rick was jailed in the '90s for attempted murder and assault, but this track comes from his 1988 debut album (and also pays a melodic tribute to the Nat King Cole song). Before all the trouble started, he was just a British-import rapping about buying a beguiling young lady a slice of pizza. Guess what her name was!
9. "Mona Lisa" - Wyclef Jean featuring the Neville Brothers
We'll end on a more mellow note, listening to the smooth stylings of Wyclef and the dulcet tones of the Neville Brothers. It's a bittersweet tune about breaking a girl's heart. ("Yo, Neville Brothers. What was her name?") Not very mysterious, perhaps, but it leaves a mark: "Right about now, if you are in dance, I want you to hold your girl real tight...I want to apologize to you. I never wrote a love song. This is my first one." We'll bet Mona Lisa would have forgiven him, that saucy minx.