Sunday, January 18, 2009

Everyday is Like Sunday, Except for Blue Monday and Ruby Tuesday, and...Well, Friday I'm in Love: Weekly Mix #49

While basing an entire mix on song titles with colours in them may seem like a cop-out, I would like to offer a little more commentary than pointing out that many bands put colours into their band names and song titles. In fact, I'm quite fascinated by the involuntary neurological phenomena of colour synesthesia in which a person can see colours in response to aural stimuli, most often music. I first heard about this phenomena via an episode of QI, and I was a little surprised when I, too, saw the "correct" colour associated with the musical tone provided. I know I likely don't have the actual condition in which colours involuntarily flash before my eyes while listening to music, but I feel like I may experience some sort of sensory crossover, and you may have noted some of this visual, colourful aspect creeping into my music reviews and descriptions. I, myself, hadn't thought about it too much, but in looking back, it seems I do insert colour imagery into how I experience music; of course this may also just be part of painting pictures with words, a feature of my writing that has always been there. Or maybe I watched too much Fantasia as a child.

I've also always been interested in the idea of colour as both a formative influence and an illusion. As children, we are led to believe that there's something pretty fundamental about colours - along with shapes, they form much of our first experiences of the world around us. A lot of our first bits of language relate to colour as it becomes one of the most important categories of adjectives as though colour were something concrete. (Useless personal trivia: I was very attached to a particular magenta Crayola crayon as a small child despite it not being my favourite colour...although not as odd as the kid who used to eat crayons and shoelaces only to regurgitate them.) However, what's more interesting to me is the fact there would be no colour without light nor without the appartus of our own human eyes, and sometimes I like to scare myself a little by thinking of the world as being no particular colour at all.

In fact, in my first year of university, I wrote a short story about a boy who appeared relatively blind most of the time, but upon further investigation, actually saw the world the way bees did - in essence, he saw things in a spectrum humans couldn't, including ultraviolet and what is called "bee purple," a mixture of ultraviolet and yellow. While the story itself wasn't terribly well-crafted, it still interests me as an idea and reminds me of how humans impose their own perceptions on the world around them. I like to marvel about exceptional things like colour blindness and a spectrum extending beyond my own perception; the environment outside my body isn't absolute, and in many ways, my eyes' translation of light as colour is the same as my brain's translation of objects into language. Oddly enough, though we use colour to describe objects, many colours take their name from objects, including coral, plum, ruby, and sepia.

Colours take on evocative characteristics that are somehow irrational yet innately human, making the majority of people see Monday as blue, loading goth clothing with semantic weight and imbuing rainbows with magic. It's also the reason that films with hyperreal colours like Amelie and La Double Vie de Veronique actually feel different from films like Metropolis or The Maltese Falcon, and why a film like Wings of Desire can convey the split narrative it does so poignantly. In effect, colours can be music.

At any rate, this mix features songs with connections to colour in their titles - there was definitely plenty to choose from. I would like to add that I've included the original version of The Psychedelic Furs' Pretty in Pink rather than the commercialized version from the John Hughes' movie of the same name, which completely missed the point of the song. I've also included a bonus track that doesn't quite fit the mix proper, the ever-popular Rainbow Connection by Kermit (a song that I will forever associate with my high school Chemistry teacher, a man with a glass eye and a steely manner, but who one day wordlessly propped up a photo of Kermit with his banjo, began playing Rainbow Connection and launched into a gracefully timed performance in which he transformed chemicals into the various colours of the rainbow and then back to clear again within the parameters of the song - so utterly brilliant that sometimes I think I dreamt it). This one is called Synesthesiac.

Colours - Calvin Harris

She's a Colour Scientist - Robots in Disguise

Red Paint - The Sound

Turquoise Days - Echo & the Bunnymen

Indigo Eyes - Peter Murphy

Mr. Brown - Puressence

Red Sleeping Beauty - McCarthy

Grey Streets - Felt

Blue - Kicker

Orange Car - Mary Go Round

Silver Sands - Stereolab

Blackout - David Bowie

Tell Me When My Light Turns Green - Dexy's Midnight Runners

Gold Against the Soul - Manic Street Preachers

Purple Haze - The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Pretty in Pink - The Psychedelic Furs

Black White - The Raveonettes

Start Wearing Purple - Gogol Bordello

The Monochrome Set - The Monochrome Set

Silicone on Sapphire - The Clash

Blue Girls - Pulp

Saffron, Beautiful and Brown-Eyed - Trembling Blue Stars

Rainbow - Boris featuring Michio Kurihara

Bonus Track:

Rainbow Connection - Kermit the Frog