Musings on Music

Many of us have loved and lost, even if we didn’t know what love was at the time and most of those memories come with a soundtrack. Whether it was a song playing in the car during a night drive or a movie soundtrack tune you both liked, most of our matters of the heart have a track listing.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

I’ve mulled on this for some time; the fact that many of my once-favourite bands and/or albums have been forever sullied by the remnants of a past love gone wrong. Try as I might, there are some albums I will never hear the same way again because so many memories are now associated with each song. The entire album has become a time capsule of that state of mind and the resonance is too thick to simply hear the music at face value.

The White Stripes.

The White Stripes.

In a way it’s a beautiful thing, that an entire relationship can be summed up in a twelve track CD and every song seems to reflect the moments perfectly. In another way it’s infuriating because that album was unbiased and amazing before some rapscallion came along and started messing with the soundtrack of my life. I’ve often listened to said albums even though they bring up a torrent of feelings, solely because I did’t want to blame the music for an error of the heart.

The Mars Volta

The Mars Volta.

Regardless, over time most of those albums faded from my playlists while others majestically rose above to maintain a place in my heart and ears today. With that, I give you my top 3 bands who have been forever dismantled by a bad love and my top 3 bands who have overcome and held strong.

Forever Dismantled

1) The White Stripes: Specifically their first 3 albums; The White Stripes from 1999, De Stijl from 2000 and White Blood Cells from 2001. This band will forever be synonymous with an on-and-off again 3 year relationship that was 2 years too long. Even though I’ve seen the White Stripes perform five times and have every album on CD and on vinyl, their early work is something I will probably never listen to again.

The White Stripes' White Blood Cells.

The White Stripes’ White Blood Cells.

2) The Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Show Your Bones from 2006 and the Is Is EP from 2007. These albums I can still listen to, but it took a few years and they will forever be heavily saturated with the memories of my fist long-distance relationship. All other albums from this band have remained unfazed but alas Show Your Bones and Is Is are now a shell of their former selves.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Show Your Bones.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Show Your Bones.

3) Tied: Jane’s Addiction and Blind Melon: All albums. I discovered these bands in greater depth with the help of the nefarious character who was the object of my affection at the time. After our spilt, both bands could not be separated from the person who brought them to me and as a result, I never listen to them anymore. Reminds me of a line from the Wedding Singer movie when Robbie tells his ex-girlfriend, “Please get out of my Van Halen t-shirt before you jinx the band and they break up.” 

Jane's Addiction.

Jane’s Addiction.

Blind Melon's Soup.

Blind Melon’s Soup.

Tried and True

In contrast to those artists and albums who could not withstand the changing tides, here are 3 bands have have proven to be kings among men. Even if the apocalypse where to fall upon us while I was spinning any of these records, I imagine I would still listen to them post-apocalypse and smile warmly. Without further ado, the champions who shattered their time capsule and continue to rock forever.

Pink Floyd.

Pink Floyd.

1) Nirvana: All albums. Nirvana’s entire discography is the ultimate soundtrack of my angsty youth but it is also heavily rooted in the memories of my first love. It’s true there were periods where I went without the Seattle rock gods after our split, but time heals all wounds and soon enough, I was back to the boys with no hard feelings. Granted it’s been over fifteen years since that first love, but still, I can happily listen to any Nirvana album with no thoughts of the boy who went bad.



2) The Mars Volta: Specifically, their first album, Deloused in the Comatorium from 2003. This one took a while to revisit with an objective ear but over time, the boys of the Mars Volta won me back with their wordy math-rock jams. Eventually I was able to enjoy this album without thinking of the person who first introduced me to the band.

The Mars Volta's Deloused in the Comatorium.

The Mars Volta’s Deloused in the Comatorium.

3) Pink Floyd: Specifically Wish You Were Here from 1979. One of the biggest factors in Pink Floyd passing the Lonely Hearts Club test of time is the fact that I first got into Floyd from my Dad. I used to play his records while lying on the living room floor and when we later bought the CDs for the house, my Dad and I would often rock out together while making dinner or doing dishes. So when my longest relationship ended with a guy who was as into Pink Floyd as I was, the band remained unscathed. Even though that guy drove me crazy, my association with the band and my father was stronger than my association with the band and my ex. I’m grateful for that because a world without Pink Floyd is a world I don’t want to live in.

Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here.

Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here.

Some may say this is all mind over matter, and those people may be right. But there is no doubt a subconscious web of connections our mind makes between major life events and the pop culture around us at that moment. Some bands are forever tainted and some rose out of the ashes like the mighty phoenix to spin on our eternal disc drives. Either way, we all have a soundtrack to our lives and these were some of the albums on mine!

I had fun writing this piece and I hope you enjoyed it as well. I’d love to hear your albums that were forever ruined or made it through the wire in the comment section below!

A Glimpse of Ghibli

Studio Ghibli is the name of a pretty famous Japanese animation studio based out of Toyko, Japan, run by directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata and producer Toshio Suzuki. Most of the films put out since the studio was built (in 1985) were written and directed by Miyazaki but all three play a hand in the overall films.  There is a huge Ghibli Museum in Japan but if you want to go you’d better plan ahead because ticket reservations will have you wait about a year until it’s your turn to go in. These guys are kind of a big deal.

The guys at Studio Ghibli have been known to lend out some of their life-sized film recreations to other countries who host the mini Ghibli  Museum exhibit in their country for a few months. This time, Studio Ghibli has lent their work to Seoul, so Studio Ghibli is here! For those fans of Miyazaki who live here in Korea, this is not hot-off-the-press-news as it’s been here since September, but for those of you around the world who are also fans but haven’t had the exhibit come to your city yet, this article is for you.

I’ll include how to get to the exhibit later but for now let’s let the photos tell the rest of this story. Let us begin with one of my favourites, the movie made after a book by the name of Howl’s Moving Castle.


Calcifer the fire demon, waiting for Sophie to get home.


A very tiny Howl (not sure what was up with that-he’s actually quite tall in the book and movie) and the scarecrow outside the window.


Howl’s actual moving castle. This display had moving parts as well!


A 3D photo behind glass, showing Sophie’s workshop.

Next, we walk into the world of Princess Mononoke where forest gods battle man’s desire for consumption.


Prince Ashitaka and his trusty steed, an elk named Yakul.


San and her family, a pack of wolves. She is judging you and all of mankind from her rock ledge.


The great forest god appearing behind a screen of fog as we walk by.

Next let’s visit everyone’s favourite neighbour, Totoro! Let’s go!

Totoro sleeping in the forest, as forest spirits often do.

Totoro sleeping in the forest, as forest spirits often do. This view can be spied through a hole carved into a huge tree trunk or stone wall, I wasn’t sure which.


Satsuki and Mei wait for their Dad to come home from work. Totoro comes by to keep them company on the darkening road.


Mei and Satsuki sit with the scary cat-bus from My Neighbour Totoro.

From one enchanted forest to another, we now wander into a spirit town in another dimension where a young girl by the name of Chihiro gets lost and must work her way back to her parents.


Chihiro crosses the bridge into the spirit world.


The witch and villian of the story, Yubaba. Hard at work turning people into animals and taking people’s names.


The spirit known as “No Face” who is the spirit of a polluted river. Bet you never thought a river could have a spirit.


My dear friend Jennifer (see Japan travels) and I have a seat with No Face on the boat.

There were other life-sized recreations from other movies such as Pom Poko, Porco Rosso and Laputa: Castle in the Sky, but they didn’t make the cut. Some photos didn’t turn out as we weren’t even supposed to take pictures so when we did, we tried not to use the flash as to remain discreet. See what I do for you, Dear Readers? I break rules for you! That’s real love.

Here are the stats on how to get there if you’re in Korea:

*The exhibit is inside the Yongsan I’Park Mall on the 6th floor. The mall can be accessed by getting off at Yongsan station (Jungang line and line 1).

*Leave through exit 3 and head right. You’ll see a set of glass doors and an escalator. Take that escalator and you’re in the I’Park mall.

*Admission is 15,000 won for adults and the hours are 11am-8pm. The exhibit hosts suggest you need an hour to walk through the recreated scenes, so last admission is at 7pm.

*It’s open now until March 1st, 2015.

It didn’t take that long for us to walk through because we went on a long weekend Saturday and also after it had already been open about a month. My only complaint is that I wish there was more and perhaps some characters from the underwater story of Ponyo. Regardless of my greedy wishes, it was a truly enchanting walk through the worlds of Studio Ghibli creations and I know I’m lucky to have had a chance to see any of it without waiting a year and budgeting a trip back to Japan. I hope Studio Ghibli comes to your city next!