Posted in Music

Tom Odell: No Bad Days Tour

Anyone who knows me a little, would know that there are two musicians that I absolutely love: Paolo Nutini and Tom Odell. And I had the chance and the privilege to watch the latter live almost two month ago-thanks to my lovely and generous close friend (hi Ayşe, I love you)! I wanted to write on it, but I simply didn’t have time between moving and adjusting to my new life-which will be the topic of another post. Although it was weeks ago, I still vividly remember the whole thing (yeah I guess that makes me a fan girl). So I wanted to write my impressions not to promote Odell, which I totally will, but to make myself relive those moments through my writing in the future.

I am going to put the songs in the original order, but I wanted to go angsty-instagram-blogger this time; I have found very basic, hipstery images online and combined them with his lyrics, most of which he writes on his own by the way, and it turned out to be super silly and meaningless out of context. But hey, sometimes you gotta put the mainstream blogging shoes on to fully make fun of them via making fun of yourself. So, I’m gonna include the links to his music as well, and I sincerely hope that you’ll listen to him-I guarantee that you’ll like what you hear!

Tom Odell has two albums (Long Way Down, 2013 and Wrong Crowd, 2016) and included songs from both of them in his “No Bad Days Tour.” To my knowledge, the tour had been going on for two years and the one in Istanbul was the last concert.

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He started off with a song from “Wrong Crowd.” I found it fitting as the first line of the song is “when I’m playing the piano, singing out of tune” and Odell opened the show with his piano and kept playing it the whole concert. The song’s about not being able to let go of a former lover and according to him, he is kinda awkward at love. So his songs are mainly about his failed trials at love. This is something he generally talks about during interviews. He has this artsy guy with commitment issues kinda vibe to him and it definitely works on stage. I chose these lines from the song, not only they summarise the whole songs quite well, but they represent the state of life that I am in currently-I am still getting used to live alone in a different country and it is sort of scary and you cannot really let go of the people you left behind, you even think more about them. Would totally recommend this song if you’re on a road trip alone and you want to pretend that you are a teen in a stereotypical American teen drama.

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I guess this song is one of his populars. I liked how he included the audience in the performance. After the bridge “Oh won’t you bring me all the things I need/I follow the rain to the roaring sea/ Oh won’t you bring me all the things I need” he slowed the song down and we basically shouted at one another “I know.” Imagine a few hundred people yelling “I know” as if we shared a common pain. And probably we did. The song’s about-yet again-not being able to forget someone. In that regard; Tom is good, Tom understands, Tom knows. I chose this specific line because the rain in the song is portrayed as something nice and soothing (the way your hair curls in the rain) the ocean is portrayed as having tides like the couple’s relationship. So this line tells me to hold on to someone not only when everything’s pretty fine, but to follow them to fights, arguments and their highs and lows.

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He then went straight into one of the songs I was really excited about; there was this smooth bridge(?) thing that I really like in the songs but unfortunately the live version didn’t come near my expectations. But, hey, he had been singing for days so I’m gonna let this one slide. The song is about, well, being with the wrong sorts of people. And that is something we have all probably experienced. I have always complained that there wasn’t any nice guys out there (until you came along dahling) and my mother still has so high expectations that I don’t think she also believes such a person exists. And I had friends that has been a bad influence on me. So yeah, no matter what we do, where we are, we always find “wrong” people. The key is to let them go though Tom.

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Until this point into the concert, he hadn’t spoken. While he was playing the piano, he greeted us and told us that it was the last show of the tour (hence it was pretty special and he was “so fucking happy to be in Istanbul,” but I suppose he tells that to every audience). Then he introduced his band. During this song, the ambient was really chill, there was little light, purple just on him, until the song gained momentum. The parallelism between the tempo of the song and the usage of lighting was a nice touch and I wish I had a better phone so that the one’s I took would’ve been postwhile. This song is one of my absolute favourite, because it says that you don’t really need any material, luxurious things when you have the one you love with you. I chose these lines as I wholeheartedly agree with them. When you miss the person you love, every comfort does seem unnecessary and something you can trade with being with them. So, yeah, I’d rather sleep in a bed with my beloved, then be apart from him with all the comforts of the world (and that room-who wouldn’t wanna sleep in there).

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I cannot write how he played the piano again and again, but all of his songs are piano based. So every song has a slow tempo to them, until the guitar and the drums come in and then Tom as well goes crazy on his piano. I like this song, it is about compromising in a relationship. To complete the other person and to accept them with their positive and negative traits and attitudes. And Tom reckons that’s how love works. And I like the idea of bodies growing together to transcend the physicality of love and connecting on a more spiritual level. This song speaks to me, man.

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This is the song that I knew the least, because I am more of a “Wrong Crowd” person. To me, this songs do not feel like Tom Odell to be honest, it is too pop-y and the lyrics are very stereotypical love song-ish. And he goes on a high note, unfortunately not one of his finest work. Or I am biased. I chose the line because that was the only one which wasn’t that sappy. But it definitely worked with that little origami in rain-let me tell you little fella you are not gonna last.

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This is also one of my favourites. I actually wrote a post about how I think Odell was inspired by the Victorian poet Matthew Arnold. I just love the piano in it combined with his soft voice. It is simply amazing and you should definitely check the live version out on Youtube. The song gives you a new perspective on things, like how something we are so used to-such as stars-can have a different meaning when we attribute a whole new meaning to them just because of a certain feeling. And it is odd to think about that it’s the same moon, almost the same stars that the great people who lived before us once looked at. It is the same moon that I am looking at through my window right now, that maybe Shakespeare looked at whilst writing A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Who knows? This give you a weird sense of connection to the past and people. But these particular lines are about looking at the stars and thinking about someone you love basically. It is a very cliche move to watch stars and think about your beloved, but still we all do that and the stars make a good companion whilst daydreaming, they create a good atmosphere. Just like a sky at nigh time, the stage was bereft of light and people with their phones, including myself, made up the constellations. It was a pretty good analogy.

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This must be his most romantic and uplifting song. It was too cute with only piano. Unlike his other songs, “Grow Old With Me” is about an everlasting love—not a romanticised but a real one with hurting and sharing. It gives the listener a curious sense of coziness. It would make a really good first song in a wedding; it’s fun, it’s cute and it’s Odellian romantic. Singing this right after slow paced “Constellations,” made the song even lighter and changed the pace of the concert as well. Up until this point all the songs have been more melancholic and slow in tempo, but with this the tempo rises until the end again. So sandwiching these songs in the middle really paralleled the emotions of the crowd. We started off wary until we got in the mood and then we spent all our energy towards the end. I can say that this was the peak of the concert.

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Again, this song makes you wanna move. Unlike his other fixation on ex songs, this one is about taking action. Generally the persona is very passive in his songs and kinda lets everything happen to him, and then complain. But now we see a different one. It gives off a strong image: even though people hurt you and things fall apart you gotta keep trying. I like its message, its difference in tone and style, so I could not record a good video because I was jumping the whole time!

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This one is also one of his more romantic songs. I like it, and it was nice to hold on to someone whilst listening to it. Made things and the song itself more significant then it would have been otherwise. So you know, it made me alive and romantic and fuzzy; especially when he slowed down and sang “hold, hold” for a few moments (and we kinda shouted it back at him). If Tom tells you to hold, you hug and hold.

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He sang the first bridge of the song without any instruments and did a cutesy dance-y thing when the lyrics go “I sing, I dance.” But, that was not all. The coolest part of this song was that they included harmonica instead of whistling. That changed the whole mood of the song-made this a little bit country but gave it more feeling to it somehow. I mean it is about (clearly) Odell himself again and the fake relationships that he had had because of his fame. And how people consider artists as the “entertainment” rather than real people with real feelings (in Odell’s case a lot of them). But, boy, he entertains us.

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Before singing the most anticipated song of the night, he played “Für Elise” and smoothly started “Another Love” from there. It was amazing. Yeah, “Für Elise” is a bit mainstream but still it added something. This must be his most angsty song, and he built up the tension real good for it. This particular song is how I imagine him to be in real life; like as if paralysed, wanting to do something but does not have the energy for it. I get like that when I go into one of my depressive moods, so I can say that I had listened to this song too much. I first listened to “Long Way Down” and unpleasantly surprised when he didn’t sing it. But after I listened to the song, I just got on Youtube and checked this Tom Odell guy and found “Another Love.” So I had never been in this particular position before, but I can totally understand the feeling. His voice is so sad and rough like the feeling the song has and gives. It was worth the wait, he did an amazing job singing it. He ended the concert with “Another Love” which was fitting, considering the fact that this song has launched his career and put us all in a shitty mood. But he came back for encore, wrapped in a Turkish flag-which was a bit unnecessary but I guess people like that kinda thing. Then he again talked about how it was the end to something very big and important for him and that he’d like to come back to Istanbul again in the future and I hope he does, I will be back as well for him only 🙂

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This is the other song in the concert that I didn’t really liked, it is a bit too sappy for me to be honest. I would have liked him to either sing “Silhouette” or “Sparrow.” It would have been simply amazing to listen to “Sparrow” live, but as it has so many high notes, I reckon it would have been hard on him at that point into the night and the tour. I will gladly pay again to see him if I know that he’s gonna sing “Sparrow.” I would go either wise, but still…

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“Somehow” is the most emotional song of his. It is about connection and relationships with people and unlike his other songs, this has a hopeful tone to it. The lines that I chose, represent that quite well. Like many other people, I occasionally ponder on death and after life, and when things get to a point where I cannot rest well, I just take a deep breath and tell myself that it’d be alright. So I am not ashamed to admit that I had cried at this song. At some point I just passed my phone to my boyfriend so that I could move freely and him recording it while telling me encouraging, nice things still makes me emotional today. Maybe it was because it was the end of the concert, and my approaching move to another country every song was more meaningful and emotional. I had my catharsis at your concert Mr Odell. Thank you for that.

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I think “Magnetised” is my favourite song. I had listened to it a lot back in march and april, because I was sort of in the same position as the persona-kinda had feelings for this person that I didn’t really acknowledge and thought that he’d never reciprocate. Hence, this song just speaks to me on a more personal level than his other works. I love its pace; it starts off slow and builds up. And that’s what Odell did himself. He just went crazy at some point and jumped on his piano. So yeah, shit went down with his last song.

Overall, I think that Tom Odell has an amazing voice and he played his piano all night, never rested… He really knows how to entertain people, he may not really dance or put up a show, you just go to his concert to listen to him. We actually stayed at the very back, because his concert is about emotions and feelings as are his songs. Hence you don’t really have to see him to feel his passion for his art. I had a blast and would love to go to another concert-if I’m lucky I can even go to a only piano show. So if he’s coming to town, I’d strongly recommend you to just go and listen.

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Posted in Movie, Music, Prose

I Am Going On An Adaptation Adventure

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I have been comparing and contrasting the book and movies of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit a lot lately. I have watched the movies before I read the novel, believing that reading the book first would ruin the movies for me. And boy, I was right. Don’t get me wrong, the movies were really entertaining and I really enjoyed them. However, the mood of the movies is really different than the book. I believe that one song from “An Unexpected Journey” sums up the whole adaptation process of the book.

When I mentioned a song from the first movie, probably “The Misty Mountains Cold” came to your mind. It was pretty iconic as it is the main theme of the first film, having appeared in the trailer. In the books, it is one of the various songs dwarves sing-however it is the crown jewel. In the book, the song is 10 stanzas long and written in iambic tetrameter. So we can say that it is very conventional, both content and form-wise. This song invokes an image of the Misty Mountains; it describes the lives of dwarves back in the day and the general topography of the forest area. Although it is not that old, as in the last line of the last stanza goes “to win our harps and gold from him.” This him here is clearly Smaug. And for those who know nothing about what had taken place, like Bilbo himself, it is a very nice way to tell the reader. As up until that point in the novel, they have been really odd and secretive (arriving one by one, unannounced) and Bilbo feels confused and irritated. [Well to be fair, dwarves had eaten everything he has and has not offered, I’d be pretty furious too.]But when they start singing, “something Tookish woke up inside him” and that’s how Bilbo decides to join their journey. Normally hobbits are not very adventurous rather creatures of routine, but they invoke an image of the mountains in Bilbo and move his kind little heart, he cannot resist. The thing here is that the song is accompanied by instruments the dwarves carry: Fili and Kili on fiddles; Dori, Nori and Ori on flutes; Bombur on drum; Bifur and Bofur on clarinets; Dwalin and Balin on viols, and finally Thorin with his golden harp. So this creates a “sweet” sound, according to Bilbo at least. What I imagined here was a very uplifting, upbeat, heroic song. Just like how it is in “The Company Theme.” That adds to the hope and confidence the dwarves feel and foreshadows their heroism along the way and in the Battle of Five Armies.

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Look at these bad boys. It is from my copy, illustrated by Jemima Catlin.

The first movie is all about establishing the importance of the Misty Mountains and how dwarves were displaced. The main focus is obviously on the gold-dwarves are all about the money. So rather than showing how greedy the dwarves really are, the movies dramatise their past. Whereas in the book, they get to trust and like Bilbo throughout the journey, but still they are whiny, greedy and generally ill-mannered. So this shift from their greed to their suffering shows itself in the lyrics of the song. The song is two stanzas long, and apart from a small change is taken directly from the book, but given the title “Misty Mountains,” which the book version lacked.

Far over the Misty Mountains cold

To dungeons deep and caverns old

We must away ere break of day

To find our long forgotten gold

 

The pines were roaring on the hight

The winds were moaning in the night

There the fire was red it flaming spread

The trees like torches blazed with light

The only different thing here is “to find our long forgotten gold.” In the book, that first stanza is repeated with a variation in the last line. The two variations are: “to seek the pale enchanted gold” and “to claim our long forgotten gold.” Enchanted and claim are keys words here. They point to the fascination of dwarves with gold and their greediness. The real reason behind why Thorin Oakenshield wants his home back is not because he is homesick, but because of all the gold on which Smaug sleeps. Also pale and enchanted remind me of the Arkenstone.

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The Arkenstone from the movie. 

“Claim”ing also refer to his greed as well; just before the Battle of Five Armies, Bard and Co try to negotiate with Thorin, claiming a part of the treasure for themselves. Yet again Thorin rejects, and rather than sharing it he’d remain stuck in the mountain. But in the movie version the verb find lightens this. Finding implies a search, yes, but it also means that they don’t know where it is or that they are not truly after it. The song is not accompanied by instruments, Richard Armitage sings it solo. The scene is pretty dark, the dark has fallen and they all sit around the fireplace. With a elegy like tone and baritone of Armitage added to the cozy darkness, the song metamorphoses into a song of longing and suffering.

 

Whilst the book has a lighter tone in general and things happen rapidly one after the other, I felt more peaceful reading it. Narrator’s language is witty and funny, and although it is action pack we don’t get to see the gruesome parts. So I’d say it can pass as a children’s book. However, the movies have more fighting and action scenes, additional characters and events. It was more of a trendy Avengers-esque movie. I think I will speak for all of us who I say that introducing a love between a dwarf and an elf was such a cheesy, Hollywood-like move. They didn’t have to have three movies for god’s sake. When I first read The Hobbit  I was surprised at the flow of events, very rapid with no unnecessary characters. Yes the movies were darker and turned the tone a tad more serious. They were nice to watch at the movie theatre with 3D, but if you haven’t read the book be sure to do so. It is much more enjoyable than the money grubbing, dwarfish excuse of a prequel. If you’d ask me, I would have to say that the movie adaptation is an unsuccessful one. I would like to quote Linda Hutcheon on this:

Perhaps one way to think about unsuccessful adaptations is not in terms of infidelity to a prior text, but in terms of a lack of the creativity and skill to make the text one’s own and thus autonomous.

Posted in Music

Arnold Long Ago Heard It On the English Channel

For the past few years, I have been almost obsessed with Tom Odell. He is a brilliant artist and if you have not listened to any of his songs, you should go check some of them out (I force my friends to listen to him, who says I can’t do the same to you too?). Lately, I have been constantly listening to “Constellations” and for some reason I got this feeling that the lyrics were quite familiar. Turns out they are not, but a few weeks ago I had to write a response paper on Matthew Arnold’s “Dover Beach” and then it dawned on me. The feeling the song has, is kinda similar to Arnold’s. Their approach to love is hopeful and that is something which is hard to find nowadays in our contemporary music industry or in poetry in Victorian era (or in general really. Such powerful poems or songs often tend to be more pessimistic.)

There was this stanza in “Dover Beach” that made me associate it with Odell’s song.

Sophocles long ago

Heard it on the Ægean, and it brought

Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow

Of human misery; we

Find also in the sound a thought,

Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

In the poem, the persona stands by the window looking over the sea (and giving us way too many sea imagery-even when you look at the poem, the form looks like the tides: ebbing and flowing) talks to his lover, who very conveniently silent throughout the poem as if she was a mere object in the room. In the lines above, the persona compares himself, his standing, to that of Sophocles. The sea is the same sea (though they are not looking at the exact same sea) it stays constant but only time and conditions have changed. Arnold has a more pessimistic tone here though, he believes the world to be full of misery and there can be no absolute trust and happiness. This is likened to the sea, these comings and goings of feelings, but the sea is constant (literally and allegorically). Even in Sophocles’ time this sea of misery was there and it will be so in the future (and let’s face it, after almost 150 years, the misery is still present if not entirely turned into an ocean). But in the end, the persona holds on to the love he shares with his lover (I am guessing the persona is meant to be Arnold and the lover his wife as they honeymooned there) in this world of appearances: “a land of dreams, So various, so beautiful, so new, Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light, Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain” and sees love as some higher power that could save him.

Similarly, Odell talks about “the same old constellations” that would “look different” because he is with his lover. The atmosphere is similar to the poem’s; here the candle as the light source “lying low” whereas the starts are the only light sources coming through the windows in Arnold’s poem. This lover is kinda alone (“There’s people all around us but they’re leaving you alone”) and nostalgic (“You’re telling me a story, some lover that you had”) and just like Arnold’s is silent in the song-though she has a name here which is an improvement. Odell also places importance upon love which is so strong a concept that can change how the individual views the world.

I do not have much to say really. These are all minor similarities and they both give me the same vibe, although I am still hoping that maybe, just maybe, Tom Odell read “Dover Beach” because how can he not, and thought: “You know what? These stars can be used in a better way in another context.” Although the personas of the poem and song are in completely different situations, looking at different things in very different eras in time; they have this same trust in love to act as some kind of a shield (so yeah like a patronus) against the world that they are facing. Arnold thought of Sophocles when looking at the sea (although he is supposedly talking to his lover), maybe Odell was thinking of Arnold whilst he was writing this who knows? This can be me reading too much into this, but at least you get to listen to an awesome song and read an awesome poem!