By The Landlord
A month ago, as autumn began to turn, the topic of songs about the colour green saw a beautiful sprouting of nominations to the Song Bar, like summer in its final bloom, and then perfect playlists to match. Now, as the pre-winter season comes into full swing, and a fall of leaves litters the ground with its terracotta tapestry, another colour is coming to the fore. We might associate it with dying - though a beautiful decay - but it also expresses, as Dylan Thomas put it, the urge to "rage, rage against the dying of the light". So in defiance against the oncoming darkness, the clocks changing from British Summer Time this weekend, and the fact that, as George RR Martin put it, "winter is coming", this week it's time to celebrate that brightest and sunniest of colours.
What do we associate with yellow? "I still remember, as a kid, tying a yellow ribbon around a tree in front of my house during the 444 days that Iran held 52 Americans hostage," says Scott Walker, here capturing innocence and experience in one remark, the scene of sunny garden, and that yellow ribbon being an international an historic symbol of home, hope, and forgiveness, often in times of war and crisis. Such a tradition has inspired many a song. But this Scott became the Wisconsin governor, not the deep-voiced eccentric singer, who had long been a star iby 1979, and who perhaps would be unlikely to do anything so traditional.
But now another truly erratic individual now does walk into the bar. Watch out, everyone, it's Grace Jones, who claims she's happy to follow the crowd: "I just go with the flow, I follow the yellow brick road. I don't know where it's going to lead me, but I follow it." Yeah Grace, of course. Like that will ever happen. Now I'd love to see you do a version of this number:
The Wizard of Oz, of course, includes the character of the cowardly lion ("Put 'em up!) and the colour yellow has that association too, particularly in the belly, so perhaps in this most wonderful of movies, the brick offers a road to redemption towards conquering those fears.
Fearfully good, and brilliantly evoked, is the use of colour, especially yellow, in the scary dystopian Channel 4 conspiracy drama series, Utopia. It plants views of a psychopathic assassin and torturer in a yellow suit, incredible vistas of mustard and rape seed fields, and it is all peppered with with spookily odd and inventive music by the Chilean-born Canadian Juan Cristobal Tapia de Veer. Check out the extraordinary sounds:
Yellow is a striking colour. It's the maillot jeune - the yellow jersey that marks out the winner of the Tour De France. And it's particularly striking if you're Uma Thurman in Quentin Tarantino's KIll Bill parts 1 and 2, and wielding a samurai sword.
This iconic look was actually nicked – er sorry, a tribute to – a 1978 film starring the great Bruce Lee, who really knew how to make a hit.
Yellow is also the colour of infection, disease and decay, not to mention nicotine stains, and the US comedian Rodney Dangerfield once said: "I told my dentist that my teeth are going yellow, and he told me to wear a brown tie."
Therefore it's also worth thinking, when searching for reference to yellow, how they mix with other others. So from the ridiculous to the sublime let's look into some yellow in art. "There is no blue without yellow and without orange," said Vincent Van Gogh, who certainly knew a few things about flowers. The sun might also come up, as it were, a lot in your song suggestions. Pablo Picasso said: "Some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot, others transform a yellow spot into the sun."Now let's enjoy a fascinating combination of yellow with other colours with a dash of Kandinsky's groundbreaking work Red-Yellow-Blue (1925). What does the yellow do here? And what do you see? A cat, mouse, rabbit? A room seen from above? Radiation? Music in colour?
When searching for yellow-based songs, in song titles or lyrics, don't forget that there are many things that are yellow that will count, and not just the sun. And gold? It's a topic that's come up before, but mainly about the precious metal and money, so if we're talking colour, and it's yellowy, then it counts. Meanwhile, back to things that are definitely yellow. This canary looks a bit like a lemon with a beak, don't you think?
Now let's get a little fruity. Does anyone like bananas? I do. And this really is bananas. It's Carmen Miranda in The Gang's All Here (1943). Stick with it, it gets even fruitier, especially from around the 4-minute mark.
And now finally, a small warning. It is getting darker, and it might snow, so if you go out in it but beware, while this fluffy friend is loveable ...
So from sun and sand to fish, bird, banana, ribbon, river or car, put your yellow (or yellowy gold) songs in comments below, and our next shining star in the Song Bar firmament, treefrogdemon, will call time on Monday evening and create a playlist to be published next Wednesday. Shine on ...
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Fancy a turn behind the pumps at The Song Bar? Care to choose a playlist from songs nominated and write something about it? Then feel free to contact The Song Bar here, or try the usual email address.