iTuned In: Let’s dance!

Mi salsa es caliente.

The other night on one of my semiregular iTunes binges, I stumbled across a track that included the word tarantella in the title and was immediately ready to download. In honor of one of my latest purchases, five songs that have dances in their titles.

1. “Hush Now (Stella’s Tarantella)” by Over the Rhine. (Stream the full track here; iTunes link here) When I was a piano student, I was fascinated by the alleged origin of the tarantella: The venom of a poisonous spider could plunge its victims into Tarantism, an excitable, restless, frenzy. My version of the story ended there (the prestissimo-speed music mimicked the afflicted person’s constant movement) but other history says that the legend had it that playing music would actually cure the symptoms and heal the bite. (The same term also is used for a different type of Italian dance — the archetypal “Italian celebratory wedding music” heard here.)

Near the end of "Do You Love Me"

2. “Entourage (Tango)” by Steven Page. (Fan user video here; iTunes link here.) The former front man for the Barenaked Ladies released a solo album last October; this alternate version of his song “Entourage” made it all the way to the final round for the 2010 holiday discs. (Eventually, it was whittled out in favor of “Do You Love Me” by Guster.

3. “Valse Triste” by Jean Sibelius. (YouTube video here; iTunes link here.) I must have given my parents fits when they heard me rehearsing the piano. (An hour a day!) After finishing the mandatory  lessons from my teacher, I followed up with 10 minutes of playing whatever I wanted. (Translated: Not this, the cover of which still gives me nightmares.) They had helpfully presented me with all sorts of Reader’s Digest-quality sheet music books (including this holiday one, this inspirational-music one and this one with family-friendly tunes) for fun, and what did I gravitate to? The classical music one, from which I learned this waltz (which was designed to illustrate an ailing woman’s final dance while Death stands literally at her doorstep); Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”; and “Funeral March of a Marionette” (the theme from “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”), which is downright cheerful compared to my other picks. I must have been a joy of an eighth-grader. It’s been years since I’ve touched a piano—the instrument itself is at my sister’s house in Golden, Colorado—and probably the only thing that remains after years of lessons is my obsessive need to keep my fingernails short, because my teacher despised the sound of them clicking on the keys.

The creepy floating Gentlemen from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" gave me nightmares that night.

4. “Danse Macabre” by Camille Saint-Saëns. (YouTube link here, iTunes link here.) I tried my hand at this song, too, although it obviously was a dumbed-down, Reader’s Digest version, and I still never managed to get up to the intended pace. I get wistful if I catch the “Hush” episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (no dialogue for 27 minutes!), which included the song as background music during a scene when Giles is trying to explain why everyone has lost their voices and bodies are being found with the hearts cut out of them.

5. “Bohemian Ballet” by Deep Forest. (Stream the full track here; iTunes link to another version here.) Deep Forest won a Grammy award for world music for the album “Boheme,” which this track appeared on. While the first album sampled pygmy songs for tracks like “Sweet Lullaby” and “Deep Forest” , “Boheme” sampled Eastern European folk music. Ah, the ’90s, when world music-inspired songs actually charted. …

WHAT SAM WORE: 1-12-11
The sweater: Lightweight merino wool V-neck from Uniqlo, New York.
The navy is so dark that I have to also pull out the black one I bought and
lay them side by side to compare, so I can make sure I put on the right one.
The shirt: Round-collar cotton dress shirt, on sale at
The pants: Sky-blue button-fly corduroys by Lucky Brand, from Last Chance.
The shoes: Suede chukka boots by RJ Colt, also from Last Chance .

One response to “iTuned In: Let’s dance!

  1. Melissa Waddoups

    Great music picks! I didn’t know you played piano. I started taking piano lessons 2 years ago and am fascinated with learning it. Unfortunately, my 40-something brain makes piano practice slow and arduous. I wish my kids had the passion for playing that I do….they learn so much faster.

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