20081011

14 days to Jakarta concert

Poetry in motion - 2 fabulous pixs that showed exactly why DT loves to rock. Looking at them for some reason I went & listen to his sophomore album - I'm OK. Once a critic called it 'his masterpiece' but didn't explain why he thought so. I didn't understand why but now I do. Cos if you have to ask for an explanation, then there is no longer any point. You either get DT or you don't. I'm OK is usually the overlooked album. Most ppl, not his fans, would either remember his first or Black Tangerine. Yet I'm OK has a lot of DT evergreens - Rain, Regular Friends, Smalltown Girl, Close to you. Usually ppl remember 1 or 2 hits off a forgotten album but I'm OK has at least 4. Despite the hits, contradictorily it is the least accessible album out of the three. David himself claimed it's his least favorite album but I think only cos he remembered producing it with a lot more pain ... & perhaps passion? I dare say it marked the start of his journey in music, so let's go back to the beginning:
The setting of this album is Union Station in Los Angeles, a gorgeous old-fashioned station much used by movies including Bladerunner. I hardly think that it was a coincidence he chose a railway station. After the success of his self-titled album. David went back to LA cos he couldn't cope with the sudden success & fame the album had brought him. It took him 2 years to come up with his 2nd album & by that time he had decided that he was going to embark on his music journey. Perhaps he struggled with his director's dream or his unwillingness to give up his freedom to become a public figure. He already had a successful behind the scene career as songwriter as well as producer so it wasn't as if he didn't had any choice. But he also said very honestly that it was hard for him to convey his feelings through another singer. In other words, unlike other producers he could not find his muse or was unwilling to find one. Meaning he was stuck in the railway station with nowhere to go unless he is singer, songwriter & producer all rolled into one.
This is also the first album that he was so open with his religion from the intro called Doxology to the ending called Amen & the biblical references in his first track Rain. A very personal album so how could he not recalled it without pain? The second track is Smalltown Girl which he has since admitted he was writing about himself. Appropriately the track featured the sound of a leaving train. Smalltown girl who was shy & unsure embarking on a journey to the city to further her career leaving behind a lovelorn boy. The lovelorn boy was of cos his old self & the lyrics went on to say that he would not be around if the girl ever return. Meaning he could never be that lovelorn boy again once he got on the train. This is something I always like about David - his willingness to go forward not backwards. Even though his songs speak of nostalgia, it is always memories that you can remember but you can never recapture. The past is a foreign country, I am not sure but I think it was Graham Greene who wrote that.
David not only wrote the songs but many of the lyrics as well as played most of the instruments in I'm OK. It was produced mostly in his LA house & in the lyrics booklet, it was printed as 'at My House' like it was a studio. I'm OK also has the least popular of his Teresa Teng's cover songs - Tuberose. Actually this cover is 'purer' than the rest. Unlike the others, he didn't give it any new lyrics & the arrangement sounded fairly simple. He merely updated it with a faster beat & a more jazzy feel. However listen carefully & you will find that it has some of the best acappella he ever produced, so good that you don't even realised that it was acappella. I would say it's the best of his cover songs because it remains so close to the original & yet it is different. It is not a song where you marvelled at his creativity or instrumentation, it is just good music. In this album you can hear his Beatles influence in a couple of tracks but the one I like best is Circus. I feel he was using it as an analogy to the entertainment world he would be entering where he felt he would always be performing like a clown. He was, and still is, not comfortable with being a celebrity. In his world, he can only be his real self during his concerts. In his last album, his last track is Olia where he also mentioned the circus leaving town but the clown is still around. Could it be he is referring to himself that he is unable to keep up with what is going on in the entertainment world? But he can never return to being the 'lovelorn boy' he left behind in Union Station. The past is a foreign country. Not long after he got so drunk that he had to be hauled to the police station cos he couldn't find his way home.
So what now? Remember his msg called 'New Beginning'. Is he contemplating another journey? Not from Union Staion now of cos. But I think one sure thing is that he is back at the crossroad of his life waiting to get on another train or plane. The question is where is it taking him?

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

BEAUTIFUL !
Make me want to pull out all of DT's CD and VCD/DVD and play it sequentially, see each album in its entirety (not just the favorite numbers/lyrics)and feel the transformations.
Thank you for keeping fellow fans updated with news, pics and thoughts.

beachgurl.

udonotknowme1 said...

Thanks for always articulating what we get from DT yet may not be able to put in words. Following DT is always embarking on a journey. It changes you, makes you think, reflect. You come out the other end retaining much of what make you your unique self, but never the same.

Sukyee

Anonymous said...

Zhaodi!!!!! Once again you echoed exactly what's always in my heart about David. 'I'm OK' is one of my all time fav not because it has so many hits but because I felt it was a young, earnest David in it. I could listen to the songs from that album over...and over again. Yes, David's work always evokes warm fuzzy feelings because it gets to the heart. Thank you for penning the feelings down so, so well...
jb

Tora said...

Zhaodi, beautifully written and interpersed with pics of the railway station - love that! Thank you for that. "I'm ok" is my favourite DT album. Songs like "Small Town Girl" resonates with me and I didn't think it was about a relationship but then didn't know what it could refer to so thanks for that insight.

It's interesting what you said about the past. Having recently looked at someone else's photos of me when I was heaps younger and knowing that we can't go back into the past, there is a sadness of some innocence lost but also a determination not to be so naive. I saw myself at being quite immature and insecure at some point and am glad where I am now. That's why I've heard people say being in your 30s is heaps better. I am slowly realising that... =O)

Vic (skybebe)

cafeoni said...

You wrote it beautifully... I'm completely taken in... Brilliant work. Please do keep it up!