Some thoughts on “Your Song”

I’m not a music maven, so I hope you don’t mind, that I’ve put down in words, some thoughts about “Your Song.”

I’m surprised I was not really familiar with the song, which is quite famous. It was a hit in 1970 – almost 50 years ago, now that we are just over a month away from the 2020s.

I think heard it within the past year for the first time. I didn’t even first hear Elton John’s original. Instead I heard this salute version by Lady Gaga. It’s really well staged, with Lady Gaga in full flamboyant imitation of Elton John, with beautiful orchestral and choral backups, and dramatic video effects atop the stage.

It struck me as a beautiful salute. But even after watching it a few times I somehow didn’t bother to listen to the actual Elton John version. When I did, my first impression was that it was somewhat subdued compared to the more recent Lady Gaga cover. And of course Lady Gaga has an amazing voice. But the Elton John version has grown on me, for its simplicity and the way it tells a story.

Both versions, by the way, are included in ordinary Amazon Prime Music. So if you have an Amazon Prime membership you can download it and play it at no extra cost on all your devices. I added both versions to my “Favorites” list.

One thing that struck me about the song was the syntactic construction of the lyrics. Especially when I was trying to explain it to my Sunday volunteer English class. It may be quite simple, and grammatically it’s not necessarily straightforward, but now that’s it’s done it’s interesting to take apart and think about. Take this verse for instance:

So excuse me forgetting
But these things I do
You see I’ve forgotten
If they’re green or they’re blue
Anyway, the thing is, what I really mean
Yours are the sweetest eyes I’ve ever seen

At first glance it seems somewhat stilted and indirect. And it’s certainly not straightforward grammar. Artistic license is taken. When you hear it, you feel it’s actually a humble person explaining, in a somewhat awkward way, talking to someone they really like, and letting them know how wonderful life is while they are in the world. You begin to feel it comes out shy and likeable.

One minor point I’ll add. I was also listening to “Fire and Rain” by James Taylor, also from 1970 (and also downloadable with regular Amazon Prime music). While it’s a very different song from “Your Song” this part struck me as having something in common.

Just yesterday morning they let me know you were gone
Suzanne the plans they made put an end to you
I walked out this morning and I wrote down this song
I just can’t remember who to send it to

Elton John’s song is a feeling of love for someone who fills his world. Taylor’s is a sadder song for someone who left the world. But in both cases they felt a need to put down in words, a song, for someone special.

Like I said, I’m not a song maven. This might be the first blog post I ever wrote about music. But the song has sort of become an ear worm lately, so I felt like mentioning it. It may be quite simple, but now that it’s done, I’ll post this.

Dancing Queen

It’s a stupid thing to get misty-eyed over.

In our Sunday classes we usually do a song and then sing it together with karaoke. Last week we did Mama Mia and somebody in the class said they really like Dancing Queen, so this Sunday we’ll do that. I was grabbing a good copy of it, and decided on this one:

I have to admit I wasn’t all too familiar with it, but like all ABBA songs I was aware of it, and knew the melody, because most ABBA songs are catchy.

This song was released in 1976, so I had just turned 20 years old. I was still in undergraduate school. Somehow I was never the type to go clubbing – too busy with even more meaningless things – and watching this I suddenly got teary eyed. Over a stupid ABBA song!

Like – where has everything gone? When did I have a young life? I got to feeling like life is passing by too quickly. I came to Japan almost 34 years ago. 34 years from now I almost certainly will not be here. It’s all gone in a moment. And yet, there was a time, when people played like this.

It’s an upbeat song, not serious at all. I’m genuinely surprised it caused such a reaction in me. Particularly because it wasn’t a song I listened to when I was young.

I suppose it’s because it is evocative of an time in our lives gone by. A time I feel I somehow missed. I guess younger people wouldn’t feel this way about a dumb ABBA song.

Apple Music, and help I got from Tim Cook

I was interested in trying the new Apple Music subscription service. In fact, I gave a demo to the Hibikinokai group last Sunday.

But I ran into a strange problem when I tried to create my own three month free trial in my main US account.

After signing up, I noticed I was charged $9.99 for the first month, even though it’s supposed to be a three month free trial.

I thought that was strange, so I emailed iTunes support and they promptly refunded me the $9.99.

But… After that, I was not able to sign up for the free three month trial. At the last step, I would get a warning telling me that since I had previously paid for Apple Music I was no longer eligible for the free trial.

I contacted iTunes support, and they told me there was nothing they could do about it, because that’s just the way it is. It didn’t matter that I was accidentally charged to begin with and refunded. The system saw that I had previously paid, and as far as it was concerned that was that and I just could not have the free trial.

That didn’t make sense to me, so I sent an email directly to Tim Cook. His email address is easy to find.

Within less than a day, one of his assistants got back to me to help.

We tried various things. First she tried to reset something, but when I went into try I ended up with the same warning at the last step that if I pressed the button I would be charged $9.99.

She also had me try from a different device, but it was the same result.

Finally, she emailed me back to say that she had deposited $30 credit to my iTunes account and I could use that for my three month free trial. Or for whatever. Sure enough, when I checked, there was $30 waiting for me.

So problem solved.

Now I can say I’ve written directly to both Steve Jobs and Tim Cook and gotten a response both times. Of course with Steve Jobs, he actually emailed me back directly. With Tim Cook he had an assistant write back. But that’s fine.

Now I can check out Apple Music and see if it can improve my mood. I’ve been rather down lately.