Brian (jupitercornwall) wrote,
Brian
jupitercornwall

Harmonic convergence

Yesterday I spoke my love for harmonies in songs. Anyone who followed my brief musical career knows that one of my strengths lies in coming up with crazy harmonies for lyrics. In keeping with that, I wanted to introduce you to a band from Germany that has lain in obscurity for the most part here in the States. This is another unsung band that has had minimal success here in the melting pot, but at least thankfully has blossomed in Europe. Münchener Freiheit is their name, more commonly known here simply as Freiheit.

Think back to 1989(if you can). The year I graduated high school was a memorable one, for may reasons. Living Colour was crunching and riffing their way into cultural consciousness with "Vivid", Star Trek: The Next Generation had become THE scifi thing to watch, the Berlin Wall came down, and John Cusack and Ione Skye starred in a teenage masterpiece of love and drama called Say Anything.

To say that Cameron Crowe is a great director is to simply speak the truth albeit a bit understated. In much the same vein as John Hughes idealizes a snapshot of life that will have you watching their movies over and over again. Hughes' movies were perfect for the 80's, when teenagers felt "OMGthisisEXACTLYportrayinghowi'mFEELING!" while watching Ferris or Bender or The Geek doing their teenage things, in situations that are coming of age moments. So to for Cameron Crowe's films, but even deeper and richer. His entire body of work has had some impact on aspects of people's lives. Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Say Anything, Singles, Almost Famous, Vanilla Sky, Elizabethtown? Christ! Of course, you can't forget Jerry Maguire(which I still haven't seen), or the impact it had on marriages and showing people things.

For Crowe, music and it's visceral impact on the listener play a large role in his films. This is something I can certainly appreciate. I watched Almost Famous with the sound muted once, and because I've watched it so often, I could "hear" the language as they spoke. This was a kind of test to see if music really did make an impact, and it was just not the same. It didn't suck, but wasn't as good without the background music, kind of like being color blind: The world may still be there, but it there is an aspect missing. He iterates in the liner notes for the soundtrack for Say Anything that music is a fundamental part of our lives, and that it helps shape and color the experiences we have in any given situation.

If you have missed Say Anything, then put it in your Blockbuster queue immediately. Mr. Cusack and Ms. Skye are electric onscreen, and the dawn boombox moment with Peter Gabriel singing Lloyd's heart to Diane will make even the staunchest stoic relax with sympathy. Just as in the Breakfast Club, it is a defining-moment-must-see, or any other cliche statement to get you to see it. The soundtrack is on par with the movie itself, using theme on top of theme, having such a mixture of pop, funk, ska, rock, and alternative(in the old classic sense). Joe Satriani, Ann Wilson, Cheap Trick, Depeche Mode, Fishbone, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Replacements, Peter Gabriel, and of course, Freiheit.

The song is titled, "Keeping the Dream Alive." It is played quietly in the background during the party scene, and is not one of the big theme songs, so you might miss it if not paying attention. It immediately caught my attention for it sounded of George Harrison mixed with ELO, and both artists use harmonies to great effect. Freiheit is a group that uses harmonies to such a perfect blending in "Keeping the Dream Alive" that it gives me goosebumps every time I hear it. There is a moment in the climax of the song where it feels as though there is a 5 part harmony that gives me a thrill of chills down my back. It is one of those soft song of romance, of longing, of reminiscence, that has strings and flutes, as well as guitar and trap set. Sounds a tad sappy on paper like this, but bands like ELO used whole orchestras with much success mixed with rock beats back in the 70's.

The song is off their album "Fantasy", one of only a few they released in english. The largest success they had was from the Say Anything soundtrack, so sadly, their extraordinary vocal ranges are hard to find here in the states. If you have a chance to pick up at least "Fantasy", give it a try. Some of the music sounds dated, it was released in 1988, after all, but there are a few real gems on it as well.

I found an appearance of Freiheit performing "Keeping the Dream Alive" on a Danish TV station on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdX3D_2h8Pk&feature=related . Give it a listen, and hopefully you'll get goosebumps too. It looks as though they are lip synching, which has been happening since music was performed on television, so you'll have to forgive that, but the clothes! The clothes are so Miami Vice, it's great!
Tags: cameron crowe, freiheit, john cusack, music, say anything
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