Questions of Science and Progress

 
 

The Scientist is the second single from British alternative rock band Coldplay‘s second studio album, A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002). The song was written collaboratively by all the band members for the album. It is built around a piano ballad, with its lyrics telling the story about a man’s desire to love and an apology.

Vocalist Chris Martin wrote The Scientist after listening to George Harrison‘s All Things Must Pass. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Martin revealed that while working on the band’s second album, A Rush of Blood to the Head, he knew that the album was missing something. One night, during a stay in Liverpool, Martin found an old piano that was out of tune. He wanted to work on Harrison’s song, Isn’t It a Pity, but he could not manage to do so. When the song came to Martin, he asked that the recorder be turned on. He concluded by saying that he came across this chord sequence and noted that the chord was “lovely”. Martin recorded the vocals and piano takes in a studio in Liverpool.

When asked about the development of the song, during a track-by-track reveal, Martin said: “That’s just about girls. It’s weird that whatever else is on your mind, whether it’s the downfall of global economics or terrible environmental troubles, the thing that always gets you most is when you fancy someone.” The liner notes from A Rush of Blood to the Head, on the other hand, states that “The Scientist is Dan.”, with Dan referring to Dan Keeling, the A&R man who signed the band to Parlophone.

The lyrics to the song allude to a man’s powerlessness in the face of love. His helplessness is exemplified in the first line of the chorus, as Martin cries “nobody said it was easy”. The song implies that he wants to go “back to the start.” The first lines of the first verse emphasise an apology: “Come up to meet you/tell you I’m sorry/you don’t know how lovely you are.” The song’s title also alludes to science in question in verse three: “I was just guessing at numbers and figures/pulling the puzzles apart/questions of science, science and progress/do not speak as loud as my heart.”

 
 

 
 

The popular music video for The Scientist was notable for its distinctive reverse narrative, which employed reverse video. The same concept had been previously used for Spike Jonze‘s 1996 music video for The Pharcyde‘s Drop. The reverse video style had first been seen in 1989 for the video for the song The Second Summer of Love by Scottish band Danny Wilson. In order for Martin to appear to be singing the lyrics in the reversed footage, he had to learn to sing the song backwards, which took him a month. The video was filmed at various locations, including London and at Bourne Woods in Surrey, before the first leg of the A Rush of Blood to the Head tour. It was directed by Jamie Thraves.In 2003, The Scientist won multiple MTV Video Music Awards for Best Group Video, Best Direction, and Breakthrough Video. It was also nominated at the 2004 Grammy Awards for Best Short Form Music Video but lost to Johnny Cash‘s video for Hurt.

 
 

To watch The Scientist music video, please take a gander at The Genealogy of Style Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Genealogy-of-Style/597542157001228?ref=hl

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Coffee and Cigarettes as a Common Thread

Coffee and Cigarettes is the title of three short films and a 2003 feature film by independent director Jim Jarmusch. The film consists of 11 short stories which share coffee and cigarettes as a common thread, and includes the earlier three films.

 
 

The film is composed of a comic series of short vignettes shot in black and white built on one another to create a cumulative effect, as the characters discuss things such as caffeine popsicles, Paris in the 1920s, and the use of nicotine as an insecticide – all the while sitting around drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes. The theme of the film is absorption in the obsessions, joys, and addictions of life, and there are many common threads between vignettes, such as the Tesla coil, medical knowledge, the suggestion that coffee and cigarettes don’t make for a healthy meal (generally lunch), cousins, The Lees (Cinqué, Joie, and a mention of Spike), delirium, miscommunication, musicians, the similarities between musicianship and medical skill, industrial music, acknowledged fame, and the idea of drinking coffee before sleeping in order to have fast dreams. In each of the segments of the film, the common motif of alternating black and white tiles can be seen in some fashion. The visual use of black and white relates to the theme of interpersonal contrasts, as each vignette features two people who disagree completely yet manage to sit amicably at the same table.

The eleven segments that make up the film are as follows:

Strange to Meet You
This is the original 1986 short Coffee and Cigarettes with Roberto Benigni and Steven Wright having a conversation about coffee and cigarettes.

Twins
Originally the 1989 short Coffee and Cigarettes, Memphis Version – aka Coffee and Cigarettes II – this segment features Joie Lee and Cinqué Lee as the titular twins and Steve Buscemi as the waiter who expounds on his theory on Elvis Presley‘s evil twin. Cinqué Lee also appears in Jack Shows Meg his Tesla Coil. The scene also features a recounting of the urban legend that Elvis Presley made racist comments about Blacks during a magazine interview.

Somewhere in California
Filmed in 1993 as the short Coffee and CigarettesSomewhere in California, and won the Short Film Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. In this segment musicians Iggy Pop and Tom Waits smoke cigarettes to celebrate that they quit smoking, drink some coffee and make awkward conversation.

Those Things’ll Kill Ya
Joseph Rigano and Vinny Vella have a conversation over coffee about the dangers of smoking. The silent Vinny Vella Jr. also appears to beg his father for money, which is given in exchange for affection, which is not provided.

Renée
Renée French (played by herself) drinks coffee while looking through a gun magazine. E. J. Rodríguez plays the waiter, who is eager to be of service. He initially approaches her to serve more coffee, to which she reacts by saying “I had the right color, right temperature, it was just right”. After that, he comes back several times, hesitates, and leaves. He seems intent on striking a conversation with her.

No Problem
Alex Descas and Isaach De Bankolé are a couple of friends who meet and talk over some coffee and cigarettes. Alex has no problems, or so he answers to Isaach’s repeated questioning. At the end of the scene, Alex takes out a pair of dice and rolls three sets of doubles. It could be assumed that Alex Descas has an excessive gambling problem but to him it is not a problem because of what he can roll. Notice he doesn’t roll the dice in front of his friend.

Cousins
Cate Blanchett plays herself and a fictional and non-famous cousin named Shelly, whom she meets over some coffee in the lounge of a hotel. There is no smoking in the lounge, as the waiter informs Shelly (but not until Cate is gone). Shelly tells Cate about her boyfriend, Lee, who is in a band. She describes the music style as hard industrial, similar to the band Iggy describes. Cate tells Shelly she looks forward to meeting “Lou” someday.

Jack Shows Meg His Tesla Coil
Features Jack and Meg White of the band The White Stripes having some coffee and cigarettes. They play themselves, although the scene seems to perpetuate the band’s former pretense that they are indeed siblings. Jack shows Meg his Tesla coil that he says he built himself and waxes intellectual on the achievements of Nikola Tesla. In the beginning, Jack seems upset that Meg doesn’t share his excitement, and it takes Meg some coaxing to get Jack to agree to show Meg his Tesla Coil. He introduces the line, “Nikola Tesla perceived the earth to be a conductor of acoustical resonance.” Cinqué Lee plays a waiter in this segment. In the end, the coil breaks, and Meg and the Waiter offer suggestions as to why it might be broken. Finally Meg says something that Jack seems to agree to, and he leaves to “go home and check it out”. Meg clinks her coffee cup to produce a ringing noise, pauses, says “Earth is a conductor of acoustical resonance” and clinks her coffee cup to produce the noise again; she looks pensively out into the distance before a cut to black. Early during the segment, Down on the Street by The Stooges is played in the background.

Cousins?
British actors Alfred Molina and Steve Coogan have a conversation over some tea. (Coogan offers Molina a French cigarette, but Molina “saves” his for later.) Molina compliments Coogan’s designer jacket but notes that it will make him hot in the 85 degree Los Angeles heat. Molina works up to presenting his evidence that the two are distant cousins. Coogan rebuffs Molina until Katy Hansz asks Steve Coogan for an autograph, and Coogan won’t give out his phone number to Molina. Then when Alfred Molina gets a call from his friend Spike Jonze, Coogan tries to make amends, but it is too late, and he regrets missing the chance to make the connection. Although they say they are in LA, the segment was actually shot in Brooklyn at Galapagos, Williamsburg.

Delirium
Hip-hop artists (and cousins) GZA and RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan drink naturally caffeine-free herbal tea and have a conversation with the waiter, Bill Murray, about the dangers of caffeine and nicotine. During this conversation GZA makes a reference to how he would drink lots of coffee before going to bed so his dreams would “whip by” similar to the camera-shots at the Indy 500, very similar to the same reference that Steven Wright did in the first segment. Murray requests that GZA and RZA keep his identity secret, while GZA and RZA inform Murray about nontraditional methods to relieve his smoker’s hack.

Champagne
William “Bill” Rice and former Andy Warhol superstar Taylor Mead spend their coffee break having a nostalgic conversation, whilst Janet Baker singing “Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen” from Gustav Mahler‘s Rückert-Lieder appears from nowhere. William Rice repeats Jack White’s line, “Nikola Tesla perceived the earth as a conductor of acoustical resonance.” It is possible to interpret the relevance of this line to the constant recurrent themes throughout the seemingly unconnected segments.

Music Soothe a Savage…

RCA Advertising Poster

 
 

Elvis Presley

 
 

Fifth and final album by Sonny and Cher, released in 1974

 
 

Nina Simone

 
 

Scenes from Nina Simone’s My Baby Just Cares for Me music video (Peter Lord, 1987)

 
 

Cover of the second single off Some Girls (1978). It was released along When the Whip Comes Down as B-Side.

 
 

Voodoo Lounge (1994)

 
 

Bridges to Babylon (1997)

 
 

Mick Jagger as a leopard. Photo: Albert Watson for a Rolling Stone Magazine 25th Anniversary cover issue

 
 

Keith Richards

 
 

Front cover for the CD Elton John One Night Only – The Greatest Hits. Artwork by David LaChapelle

 
 

Poster for Cats, the musical composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber based on a T.S. Eliot’s play.

 
 

Jossie and the Pussicats comic book

 
 

Rick Danko, member of The Band

 
 

Rod Stewart

 
 

Kurt Cobain

 
 

Monster(1994). The album was dedicated to Kurt Cobain and River Phoenix

 
 

Before the Fire (2009)

 
 

Head Down (2012)

 
 

George Harrison

 
 

Debbie Harry

 
 

John Lennon

 
 

Madonna in Express Yourself music video (David Fincher, 1989)

 
 

Versace Ad Campaign by Steven Meisel

 
 

Madonna… again

 
 

Lady Jazz and Mister. Photo: Herman Leonard

 
 

This another Billie Holiday’s portrait was taken by Carl Van Vechten

 
 

Frank Zappa

 
 

Bob Dylan

 
 

Guns ‘N’ Roses

 
 

David Bowie

 
 

1a71Björk in Triumph of the Heart music video (Spike Jonze, 2005)

 
 

The phrase “Music has Charms to soothe a savage Breast” was coined by the Playwright and Poet William Congreve, in The mourning bride, 1697

Coming Out of the Cocoon

Dedicated to my boyfriend Paul

 
 

It was the third and final single off Björk’s Vespertine. The music video was as controversial as the previous one for Pagan Poetry (Nick Knight). Cocoon video was directed by Japanese multi-disciplinary artist Eiko Ishioka. Björk wrote the lyrics along Danish electronic musician Thomas Knak. In some verses there are sexual-erotic euphemisms and metaphors depicting how a girl is feeling since love took has taken her by surprise.

 
 

Front and back cover from Björk’s Volumen Plus (2002).