Weather Music

Weather is a powerful muse in a number of ways, and when it comes to music, it seems to fall into four categories: songs that evoke weather or seasons, but does not mention them directly; songs that uses weather as a metaphor for the themes of the song; songs that use weather as part of the background of a story of scene; and lastly, songs that are simply about the weather. 



Earlier this year, the Weather Channel had a tournament, NCAA style, matching 64 weather-themed songs against one-another to determine a weather music champion. Readers voted on songs in head-to-head matchups, and after 63-such matchups, The Beatles Here Comes the Sun was crowned champion. While the reader-voted aspect of the competition was always going to favour mainstream classics (like other contenders Over the Rainbow, Singin' in the Rain, and White Christmas), it's a little disappointing that more contemporary music wasn't featured, even in the early rounds. I think U2's Beautiful Day and Adele's Set Fire to the Rain are the only pieces from the last decade featured. One can also question whether some of the songs are really songs about weather. Is Ice Ice Baby a 'weather' song in any sense of the word? I'll save you the trouble of googling the lyrics: it's not. 

So, with the weather channel having taken care of the mainstream selections, what are your favorite underrated weather-themed music? 

I think one could probably identify an entire bracket of 64 Tom Waits songs that feature weather imagery in one way or another, with the comic musings of Emotional Weather Report (with tornado watches issued shortly before noon Sunday, for the areas including the western region of my mental health and the northern portions of my ability to deal rationally with my disconcerted precarious emotional situation); and the simple observations of Strange Weather (All over the world / It's the same / Strangers talk only of the weather) being a couple top contenders.



So, share some of your favorites in the comments!

Rights of passage

There are two types of roadtrips: the purposeful roadtrip, and the roadtrip for its own sake. The purposeful roadtrip has been around for as long as there have been roads. But the roadtrip for its own sake is a relatively recent phenomenon. Some link it to the idea of the Grand Tour—a renaissance idea that young men of wealth should, at a certain age, travel throughout the continent, absorbing all of the cultural offerings available. As transit opportunities diversified, class ceased to be such a barrier and touring the continent grew in popularity.

The North American roadtrip his a very different history, as the earliest travel was rarely about cultural enrichment but instead about industry. The development of Route 66 in 1926 combined with the rise of the automobile around the same time cemented the roadtrip as part of American culture. An Oklahoma businessman chose the route number, because he thought it would be easy to remember and had a pleasing sound to the number; the R&B standard—covered by musicians from Nat King Cole to Depeche Mode—has proved him right on that account. The anthem has become the unofficial anthem of the American roadtrip. In recent years, increasingly wide and busy freeways occupy a major role in American travel and transportation, but a true road-trip requires at least some time spent getting off the freeways and enjoying the smaller highways that connect one town to the next, and the song perfectly captures the spirit of this. 

The quintessential Canadian roadtrip is the Trans-Canada highway, which wasn't officially completed until 1971. In contrast to Route 66, the unofficial anthem of the Canadian roadtrip is the austere and haunting Northwest Passage by the late Stan Rogers. Rogers focuses on the wilderness and a link between modern travellers and the early explorers of the country; it's about the spaces between the towns, just as Route 66 is as much about the towns themselves, and it helped the relatively new highway become a source of national identity. 

Jazzy great Shapes!

Hats off to Eric Hamelin and his jazz ensemble 'No More Shapes' who received a smokin' review in the New York Times.

Hamelin's drumming genius and jazz experimentation was featured in the AudioVisual section of the Winter issue of UPPERCASE magazine, so if you're a subscriber, be sure to check that piece out (page 22)! 

If you are living in Calgary, the band is playing this Wednesday (March 31st) at Cafe Koi.

Their newly released album 'Creesus Crisis' is available for purchase here. *Artwork by Amber Hebert, Denis Desjardins & Eric Hamelin.

'Pierrot le fou' on Saturday

If you're in Calgary this weekend, don't miss the chance to see Jean-Luc Godard's 1965 masterpiece, Pierrot le fou. A highwater mark of the French New Wave and the road film.

The film is presented by Calgary Cinematheque and shows Saturday, March 6 at 12pm at the Plaza theatre in Kensington.


Mob Heaven

If you're looking for a film fix of mob heaven that includes some dynamite big hair and other 80s fashion tips, I highly recommend Jonathan Demme's Married to the Mob.

From start - check out the stylin' credit sequence below

to finish - don't Michelle Pfeiffer & Matthew Modine make a fabulous pair? 

this has to be one of my all time favorite 80s romances. Long live the mafia.

Woodpigeon tonight!

Mark Hamilton, founder of the band Woodpigeon, has been generously lending his talents as a writer for many issues now. (thanks, Mark!) Woodpigeon is playing tonight at Broken City in Calgary. Their poster is illustrated by Jeff Kulak, who was part of the first edition of Work/Life in 2008. His full page illustration for Work/Life has always been one of my favourites:

I'm planning a new edition of Work/Life to be released by the end of the year. The details are being worked out and the website prepared, but if you'd like first notice of the call for participants you can sign up here.

The Animals Christmas

I am the sentimental type who goes joyful to the sounds of Christmas music but each year it gets harder to find that rare gem of an album, old or new, that pricks up my ears.

This year my pick is 'The Animals' Christmas' an 80s concept album composed by Jimmy Webb, performed by Art Garfunkel with Amy Grant and backed by the London Symphony Orchestra and the Kings College School Choir.

The concept of this cantata is to 'tell the story of the Nativity from the perspective of the animals who were there.'

To listen to sample tracks, click here.

And if you have recommendations for other special Christmas albums or songs, please share them!

Holiday Treasures

Reading Dylan Thomas's A Child's Christmas In Wales is a holiday tradition for many. The story's lush evocation of sights, sounds, smells and tastes of his childhood experience gives one a sense of being there among the cats and the snow, rhum tea and butterwelsh, dodgy Uncles and elderberry wine.

I am such a fan of the book that each year I delight in buying it, giving it a pre-love read and then wrapping it up and gifting it to a friend or family member. Last year I gave it to my sister Lani who read it on her flight home and immediately wrote me to sing its praises.

Can't think of many things finer than listening to Dylan read it himself and it looks like some of the old lps (image above) are kicking around on ebay!

For a quick feel of the story's charm, click here. Of course, I urge all to buy the book -- or the album!

Working Girl(s)

Sadly Harrison Ford is not among us... but the work continues here at UPPERCASE.

Love this 80s movie to bits and Carly Simon's theme song, 'Let the River Run' inspires.

Georgy Girl

It's a film not a tv show so it's not in the running for the contest but 'Georgy Girl' (1966) starring Lynn Redgrave and Charlotte Rampling, has one of the best theme songs (by The Seekers) ever. If you haven't heard it before, click here to have a listen.

Best TV Theme Song: Vote In!


While Janine is busy making papergoods I am busy making up pop culture contests!

Which show do you think has the best TV Theme Song/Opening Sequence 'Laverne & Shirley' or 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show.'?


I love the industrial factory aesthetic in 'L & S' but the rainbow lettering in 'MTM' is fabulous. And they are both super 70s sweet & sincere...

 Vote in with your thoughts and picks now!

Go Team Eclecto!

This is a special theme song dedicated to Janine & the Eclectonote Team of amazing creatives who are working around the clock to make a big batch of beautiful eclecto notebooks. 

Go team go! 


Handsome Bachelor

It looks like Bachelor No.2 wins the popular vote. Cary Grant makes a fine bachelor any way you slice it.

The Italian version of the poster pictured above retails for $1200: that's a handsome sum for a handsome gent.

Special thanks to all who voted in!

Vote In: Which movie poster do you fancy the most?

Bachelor No. 1: Original, Classic Hollywood Hitchcock

Bachelor No. 2: Subtle spin



Bachelor No. 3: Abstract gothic/German expressionist??


or, Bachelor No. 4: French romantic

Vote in now!

Robert Downey Jr. vs Cary Grant

Robert Downey Jr. is more than swell, but in my mind he's no match for Cary Grant. To see more Hitchcock Classic film re-casts, visit the 2008 Vanity Fair Hitchcock Classics Photo Portfolio.

Film Fireworks

I was out at one of those hip fusion restaurants the other day - you know, the kind with the giant flat screen tvs playing cool old movies sans sound - and was delighted to re-discover the wonders of Cary Grant & Grace Kelly in Hitchcock's fabulous 'To Catch A Thief" (1955).

The film is fantastic for its stars, its spectacular locations, and exquisite fashions. A real feast for the eyes. The film was also noteworthy for breaking taboo codes of sexual representation. Apparently Hitchcock defied the studio's mandate and opted to keep the 'overtly symbolic' fireworks scene in the final cut.


'Wild Things' Inspire

After watching the movie Where the Wild Things Are I was inspired to buy the soundtrack and after a thousand plus listens all I want to do in life is write a song as gloriously simple and affecting as 'Worried Shoes' (track 4 for fellow listeners). I wonder how many others felt the same?

I thought this was the genius of Karen O. (of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs) but it turns out that Karen O & the Kids are covering Daniel Johnston. I had long heard of the myth, and the madness, of Daniel Johnston but deliberately shied away on account of the darkness. This is the first time I've encountered the raw beauty of his lyrics. Sold.

So now, thanks to 'WTWTA' I am also inspired to watch 'The Devil and Daniel Johnston' (2006) an acclaimed documentary celebrating Johnston's complex life and art. Click here to watch the film's trailer.



Visual artists have also taken inspiration from Where the Wild Things Are. I spoke to the talented artist, and UPPERCASE magazine contributor, Stefanie Augustine about the film and her personal creation "Wild Things" (pictured above).

"I loved the movie. It felt like a rare gift in the midst of so many bad movies out there -  really beautiful and refreshing. I had the urge to paint after seeing the movie, but even more so I had the urge to build things out of sticks!! (which I didn't actually do), but it makes you feel like, why don't we build things for fun more often?" Good question.

The artwork that Stefanie did make after seeing 'WTWTA' was directly inspired by the film's colors and her curiousity to see how the characters would work in a collage style. Scratchy whimsy are the words I find to describe her unique vision and style. Love it!

To see more of Stefanie Augustine's original creations and her client work, visit her website here. Thanks for sharing Stefanie!

Wild Things

In my lovefest for Spike Jonze's filmic adaptation of Maurice Sendak's beautifully macabre children's story, Where The Wild Things Are,' I came across a lovely and inspiring website devoted to the years and years of creative collaboration, blood, sweat, tears and sewing on burlap! that went into the making of the film.

It's called We Love You So and it's well worth a visit if you are a fan of the book, the movie, Spike, or simply creativity in all its mad, determined, triumphant glory! This site celebrates the many, many people behind the scenes and the quieter moments of bringing the project to life.

It's also got an amazing set of Links to tap you into music, fine art, books and other scenes related to and inspired by the people behind WTWTA. Cool!

'House' for Halloween

The Calgary Cinematheque folks have done it again! Thanks to brilliantly macabre programming, local audiences are being treated to the cult classic House (1977), a Japanese horror show like no other.

Descriptions of the film from the CC website put a fine point on its genre defying strangeness:

"... a psychedelic ghost tale? A stream-of-consciousness bedtime story? An episode of Scooby Doo as directed by Dario Argento? Any of the above will do for this hallucinatory head trip about a schoolgirl who travels with six classmates to her ailing aunt's creaky country home, only to come face to face with evil spirits, bloodthirsty pianos, and a demonic housecat. Too absurd to be genuinely terrifying, yet too nightmarish to be merely comic."

If you're looking for early Halloween frights, be at the Plaza Theatre to get your tickets early. The film starts at 9:15pm Thursday October 29th.

To glimpse the film's odd spooks, click here.


A newish (March 2009) documentary film, Objectified by Gary Hustwit explores the complex relationship we have to our things, and by extension, to the individuals who design them.

From the website: "It’s a look at the creativity at work behind everything from toothbrushes to tech gadgets. It’s about the designers who re-examine, re-evaluate and re-invent our manufactured environment on a daily basis. It’s about personal expression, identity, consumerism, and sustainability." Sounds intriguing...