Sunday, November 10, 2013

Turning Myth Into Truth (The Playlist Project - Part 1)

I really have to find something more productive to do with my time. Or get my brain to shut up for, like, a week (after the 23rd, dear).

Something I love doing is creating iTunes playlists/soundtracks from music that I love to go along with shows or movies or even books that I also love. I thought it fitting to create a tribute playlist for Doctor Who, choosing fifty songs that I think best illustrate the show and its characters (meaning these are songs I would love to make a fan-music-video to, if I had time and working software).  My only rule is this: I don't use any music from official soundtracks because that's just cheating :)

Now, this playlist is 100% down to my tastes and my experiences. I don’t expect everyone to totally agree with me. In fact, I would be surprised if anyone totally loved all my choices. But I will explain myself and leave it up to you, Dear Reader, to agree or disagree as appropriate (and question my tastes in music).

So, without further ado, I present -

Fifty Years Running: The Doctor Who Playlist Project

(Part 1: Tracks 1-10)

Track 1: Blue by Eiffel 65

Yo listen up here's a story
About a little guy that lives in a blue world
And all day and all night and everything he sees
Is just blue like him inside and outside
Blue is his house with a blue little window
And a blue corvette
And everything is blue for him and himself
And everybody around
'cause he ain't got nobody to listen to

I’m blaming Iron Man 3 for this one. I had a whole bunch of songs that I thought would go along with Doctor Who, but I didn’t have anything that I thought would serve as a good opening for the playlist. Then I saw Iron Man 3 in theaters and this song started the movie. And I thought “I wonder if I own that song.” And I did, so that made my mind up for me. Between the opening lines and the title and the fun atmosphere of the song (and some of the lyrics, because that’s vitally important too), I decided that I had hit gold. Didn't hurt that the Doctor basically lives in a blue house (more or less).

So, listen up - here’s the story!

Track 2: Falling For the First Time by Barenaked Ladies

Anyone perfect must be lying, anything easy has its cost
Anyone plain can be lovely, anyone loved can be lost
What if I lost my direction? What if I lost sense of time?
What if I nursed this infection? Maybe the worst is behind
It feels just like I'm falling for the first time

Shameless Self-Promotion Time!  Back when I had working video-making software, I created this video tribute to Donna Noble to this song, thinking that it illustrated perfectly the journey she took with her travels in the TARDIS. There was never any question of if I would include this song in this playlist, but now I see that it could apply to the Doctor’s attitude about the universe at large - and quite likely why he ran off from Gallifrey in the first place.  Which is why it comes in at number 2 on the countdown (like that really matters in the grand scheme of things...)

Track 3: The Trail We Blaze by Elton John

Look out new world here we come
Brave, intrepid and then some
Pioneers of maximum
Audacity whose resumes
Show that we are just the team
To live where others merely dream
Building up a head of steam
On the trail we blaze

Changing legend into fact
We shall ride into history
Turning myth into truth
We shall surely gaze
On the sweet unfolding
Of an antique mystery
All will be revealed
On the trail we blaze

I really love The Road to El Dorado soundtrack and this song I think is the most about having an adventure and discovering new things that you never thought possible and the type of person who would undertake such a journey (either wittingly or unwittingly - but everyone still becomes friends eventually).

To me, this song could be applied to any number of the pure historical stories - and not just the ones from the First Doctor’s era (though I could see a fan video made of clips from “The Aztecs” to this song). One of the audio stories I reviewed for Librarian in the TARDIS was the Big Finish Audio “The Kingmaker,” which dealt with the mystery of what King Richard III did to his young nephews - did he kill them in order to secure the throne for himself or did he hide them away for his own safety (or where there any princes to begin with?) It’s the fun of “changing legend into fact” that endears so many of these historical stories to me and I sometimes wish there were more, especially in New Who (not a whole lot, mind you - just enough to spice things up a little bit).

Track 4: Ticket to Ride by The Beatles

"The gamers say we're 'retro.' Which, I think means 'old, but cool.'” - Wreck-It Ralph

This one is a bit of a cheat, but since it was only an insert of a segment of “Top of the Pops” into “The Chase” and not actually performed specifically for the filming of the story - I’m gonna let it stand. And not because the lyrics really “fit” with Doctor Who (because they don't), but mostly as a way to get the “flavor” of the 1960s. Even in all the discussion of how the show is 50 years old, sometimes it’s easy to forget what exactly that means. I mean, my parents were toddlers in 1963 (just to put that into perspective for myself, my niece just turned two this past summer). It’s also a testament that even these earliest stories feel timeless - in spite of being filmed in black and white and early television effects and things like that. Honestly, I don’t think Doctor Who starts really becoming a product of its time until “The War Machines,” with the whole “Swingin’ Sixties” theme. And even then, that aspect didn't last very long (that may be an odd statement and some of the more snobby elite academic critics in fandom would give me a harsh side-eye on that, but when I have I ever sought their approval?)

Truly, the strength of Doctor Who - especially the Classic Series - is that it avoids becoming dated in its storytelling. If The Powers That Be chose to do so, a story like “An Unearthly Child” could easily be retold using today’s modern filmmaking techniques (that being said, I don’t want it remade. I’m just saying that it could be done).

Anyway - the point of including this song (other than to have a good-natured laugh at Ian’s embarrassing “dad-dancing” - here, have a link to a gif of the whole scene because it is GLORIOUS to behold) is just to reflect the show’s place in history. And just how cool the Beatles were involved. Because the Beatles, like Doctor Who, are still very cool.

Track 5: Come Sail Away by Styx

From the 60s into the 70s! Does this even need explaining? It was a key component of Tenth Doctor: The Musical, so that oughta say something.

Track 6: Good Life by OneRepublic

To my friends in New York, I say hello
My friends in L.A. they don't know
Where I've been for the past few years or so
Paris to China to Colorado

Sometimes there's airplanes I can't jump out
Sometimes there's bullshit that don't work now
We've got our stories, but please tell me
What there is to complain about?

This one has a bit of a story behind it. This one, more than any of these (so far), I most associate with two particular characters. A few months ago, I watched “The Chase.” I stinking LOVE “The Chase.” I know it’s got a bit of goofy silliness to it, but at it’s core it’s about the First Doctor, Ian, Barbara, and Vicki having settled into their lives of adventure as this little cohesive family unit and you think that this is how it’s always going to be - because why wouldn’t it?

Just when you think that all is well and Team TARDIS is going to go off on their merry way - they’re left with the Daleks’ time ship. And Ian and Barbara slowly realize (and we the audience do too) that they could get back home in this time ship.

When I realized Ian and Barbara were on the way out (like, five minutes before they actually left - I had no idea that “The Chase” was their last story. Way to avoid 40+ year-old spoilers, Me!), I had two reactions. The first was: “You can’t go!!” The second was: “Aww... they’ll finally get to go home!” And I was happy for both of them. Personally, I’m really glad that the ending of “The Chase” plays out the way that it does. In my mind, Ian and Barbara got the best companion departure in all of Doctor Who (yes, even better than Jo Grant - and I’ll fight whoever on that point). Sure it’s sad that they’re leaving, but you also get to see their complete and utter joy at finally being home in their own time (more or less). It’s a fitting send-off for two characters that helped the Doctor become less of the grumpy old curmudgeon (on a good day) and planted in his heart a love of humans and the Earth. And, thanks to “those old fusspots,” the Doctor’s travels will never be the same.

That’s all fine and good, but what does that have to do with this song? Well, the last time I watched “The Chase,” I had to go to work right afterward and I was kind of feeling some bittersweet euphoria at the ending. As I am wont to do, I put my iPod on shuffle and, thanks to the wonders of serendipity, this song came on and it just fit with how I was feeling after watching this story. Thus, it went on the playlist and it will be forever associated (in my mind) with Ian and Barbara and their happy ending (that’s how my mind works).

Track 7: Galaxies by Owl City

Following on from the high note of Good Life, I had to put Galaxies in here (and this, frankly, amazing fan-made video tribute to the Tenth Doctor).

This song was chosen for it’s outer space motif (obviously) and the sentiment of someone saving the day. Of course, the original song has religious/spiritual themes to it, which I connect with on a different level. But it’s also the wild ride of time-and-space travel that makes this a great song to be included on this playlist (and I love Owl City, so there’s that).

Track 8: Don't You (Forget About Me) by Simple Minds

Time for some 80s music! With all the goodbyes the Doctor has said (whether to one-off characters or to companions who’ve also become his best friends), one thing he never does is forget about those companions. And it’s unlikely that they ever forget him (let’s just leave the endings of “The War Games” and “Journey’s End” aside for a little while). With a history and a canon as long and involved as Doctor Who has, memory has been a key theme in every era and incarnation of the show.

Track 9: Gone in the Morning by Newton Faulkner

Really, I picked this one because I love this video and now the song makes me think of the Doctor and his companions. Kind of in the same vein of memory and remembering each other.  The lyrics don't exactly fit the overall story, but the video's good.  So, there you go.

Track 10: Over the Rainbow/Simple Gifts by The Piano Guys

This will not be the last time you see The Piano Guys on this playlist, I assure you.  If nothing else, Somewhere Over the Rainbow is about dreaming and wishing to see something new and exciting.  That's a huge part of Doctor Who, making this a very fitting song for this tribute playlist.  And this video is just plain gorgeous. The Doctor needs to visit Hawaii (if he hasn't already - I'm sure he has).

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