Adagietto

Rest is a beautiful thing.

In music, the rest, a breath, lives between one note falling into another.

In the above piece of music, Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No 5. IV Adagietto, the pauses between notes has a painfully beautiful effect. Go to the 8:o4 mark on the video and you’ll see what I mean. The heart melts, finds relief, as all hinges on one note melting into the next.

In life, to rest is to drink deep of the divine.

To still, to slow, to pause, is to strengthen the soul.

Tonight I listened to Mahler in a darkened room with my eyes closed and allowed myself to be immersed in beauty for twelve minutes and seven seconds. Rather than let myself become distracted by a million other things I could have been doing, I rested.

Just like when Cynthia and Jenny listened to The Swan (Le Cygne) by Camille Saint-Saëns and the drama of the day melted into much-needed rest, I too fell captive to music and did nothing but breathe while the symphony stoked the fires of my imagination. 

Adagietto. 

Light-hearted, but a slow pace.

The sweet spot between movements where rest is just as important as the notes.

photo from Call the Midwife (BBC)

Bryony Hannah (Cynthia) and Jessica Raine (Jenny) in a scene from Call the Midwife (BBC)

 

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest

– Matthew 11:28

Well, you might belong to another time

... but you have to carry on [photo from Downton Abbey courtesy of weheartit.com]

… but you have to carry on [photo from Downton Abbey courtesy of weheartit.com. Mary’s wearing the dress that made me gasp in season 1]

Ever felt like you were born in the wrong decade?

I have, for my entire life.

Some examples:

  • Remember Victoria magazines? I was obsessed. (SIDENOTE: Was there a mania for all things Victorian in the mid-90s? Was it just me? Can anyone confirm?)
  • Growing up, our family would occasionally skip the evening church service on Sundays and watch Road to Avonlea and eat tuna melts on English muffins in the family room. One of my fondest memories.
  • When I was 12, I wrote a letter to myself to open when I got engaged, and the letter contained “wedding ideas.” One of the ideas was to have an old-fashioned “Victorian” wedding. The 12-year-old me would be very pleased to know that I did!
At the 1864 B&B where our wedding was held

At the 1864 B&B where our wedding was held [photo courtesy of Destiny Dawn photography]

  • Some of my favourite movies growing up were Little Women and Ever After. They still are, actually. My first head-over-heels celebrity crush was Christian Bale as Laurie.
  • When I was in eighth grade, I read both Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre and I’ve never recovered. They remain two of my all-time favourite novels.
  • The Encarta Encyclopedia CD-ROM introduced me to David Bowie, Grandmaster Flash, and Creedance Clearwater Revival.
  • In grade four, our teacher showed us Fiddler on the Roof. My friend and I would put handkerchiefs on our head and pretend to be poor and Jewish and Russian circa 1905.
  • In seventh grade, our music teacher introduced us to Les Miserables. I wanted to be Eponine (even though she dies) and I wanted to marry a fiery revolutionary like Enjolras (in my fantasy, they both lived).
  • In ninth grade, I got really obsessed with disco music, for some reason, and big band swing. That developed into an obsession with classic rock, and I’ve never recovered from that either.
  • I still believe that if you listen to Tommy with a candle burning, you’ll see your entire future.
  • Downton Abbey. Enough said.

THE DRESS [photo of Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley in Downton Abbey]

THE DRESS that made me gasp in season 4 [photo of Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley in Downton Abbey]

There’s nothing I love more than losing myself in a good period piece, whether a book or a film, and “living” in a different time. Everything is simpler, whether it’s Regency England or the height of the Jazz Age. The fashion is gorgeous. The manners are courtly. People sat around drinking tea and being genial. Our modern world is crass and impersonal and ugly by comparison.

Owen Wilson and Marion Cotillard in Midnight in Paris, 2011 [photo courtesy of google image search]

Owen Wilson and Marion Cotillard in Midnight in Paris, 2011 [photo courtesy of google image search]

Feeling nostalgic for a past you never lived in is handled beautifully in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, starring Owen Wilson and Marion Cotillard (CAUTION: SPOILERS AHEAD). Owen Wilson’s character, Gil, is obsessed with the 1920s (can you blame him?) He travels back in time to his favourite decade every night at midnight, and has the good fortune to meet such legends as Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. He also falls in love with Pablo Picasso’s beautiful mistress Adriana.

In one scene, Gil tries to explain to Adriana why he’s so fascinated with the 1920s and she just doesn’t get it. To her, it’s the norm. There’s nothing special about her decade. It would be like if someone from the future came and tried to tell us why 2014 is so amazing. She idolizes the 1890s Belle Epoque, and when the two time travel to the 1890s and meet Gauguin, Degas, etc., the famous men of that time believe the greatest decade was the Renaissance.

Gil eventually comes to the conclusion that everyone feels nostalgic about an era not their own and it’s better to accept the present for what it is rather than completely romanticize the past.

you were made for a simpler time [photo of Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary in Downton Abbey courtesy of [pinterest]

you were made for a simpler time [photo of Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary in Downton Abbey courtesy of [pinterest]

My best friend and I made a similar discovery recently while discussing our favourite show and shared obsession, Downton Abbey. We were talking about how we yearned to live in the 1900s-early 1920s … but with one caveat: we would have to be fabulously rich, like the Crawley’s. And we wouldn’t have been, realistically. She would’ve been in service in England and I would’ve been a farmer’s wife in northern Holland. No ball gowns and lady’s maids for us!

So yeah, I’ll still romanticize the past for its fashion, music, and manners, but then I’ll remind myself how much I love modern medicine, being able to vote, and having a career!

The Story of Ray Lamontagne

I never learned to count my blessings / I choose instead to dwell in my disasters

I never learned to count my blessings / I choose instead to dwell in my disasters

Friends are awesome.

And friends who share your love for Ray Lamontagne? That’s just the icing on the cake. For your enjoyment, here’s an online conversation between a friend and I about the beautiful gentle soul, singer/songwriter Ray Lamontagne.

BJH: there’s a lotta things that can kill a man / there’s a lotta ways to die / yes, and, some already did / and walk beside me

Alison: i looked my demons in the eye

Alison: said “do your worst, destroy me”

BJH: awesome

Alison: gentle ray

Alison: i always picture him in this romantic little Victorian shoe shop in a quaint village and he’s the poor shoemaker of the fairytale

Alison: who possesses this otherworldly voice, the only thing that gets him through the drudgery of fashioning shoes for the grotesquely elite

BJH: Yeah… me too

Alison: One day, he’s visited by a traveling trickster who offers him a bag of coin which would allow Ray to retire comfortably in a seaside cottage with his loyal mutt Boots … but for a price

BJH: well written, btw

Alison: Ray must sing into a box and give away his voice forever.

BJH: lulz

BJH: he chose well

Alison: Ray is faced with a choice: give away his voice, or retire rich and alone

Alison: He chooses the drudgery and singing, knowing that it is better to be poor and keep your voice than to be rich and lose it forever

BJH: OR he has to sell his voice and retire, rich and with his dog OR sing for no one and retire, old and alone in anonymity. He does sing into a box and he has ‘retired’ some shoemaking

BJH: and he’s rich beyond my imagination, i would assume

BJH: he’s also young enough that his dog may still be alive

Alison: i think so

Alison: Boots!

BJH: yes, boots

BJH: and not the yelling-dora-style boots, neither…

Alison: nope

Alison: i like our story

Alison: we should get it illustrated

 

Sinister Kid (Or, Kids Being Really Freaking Creepy)

I’m not sure if you could call this a trend per se, but lately I’ve been noticing how many disturbing music videos there are featuring children.

I’ve always been a big fan of music videos but they can make or break a song, especially if you begin to associate the song with the video. Maybe that’s what they mean when they say video killed the radio star? 

Anyway, what the heck is with all these videos featuring disturbing elements of childhood? Is it because childhood gaiety and innocence, when combined with the darker aspects of human existence, are an artistic goldmine (see Alice Through the Looking-Glass, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for milder examples)? Or perhaps it’s because it’s so unexpected, and this is why horror movies with and about children are particularly disturbing, why evil clowns and ice cream truck jingles and broken music boxes send a shiver down one’s spine …

Here are some of the videos I’ve noticed with children being creepy. If you’re particularly sensitive to disturbing images, as I am, then I wouldn’t recommend watching all of these. Just use your own discretion. They’re not that bad, and there are certainly worse, but the warning stands.

  • “Helena Beat” by Foster the People

Sick beat. Foster the People’s one of the best indie pop bands to come out this year riding on the coattails of MGMT and all of their songs are infectiously catchy.

So here we have a dude, driving along in his beat-up van along some rural-ish road, minding his own business, and has to stop when he sees an old-fashioned pram in the middle of the road. He’s then ambushed by a ragtag group of very angry children who proceed to kidnap him, trash his van, kick the crap out of him, and then tie him to some sort of torture device that turns him into a menacing child.

Happiness.

  • “Phantom Limb” by The Shins

Man, I love this melody! Okay, so this is nice. A bunch of kids putting on some sort of pageant play. Vaguely Pilgrims and Native Americans. An Aryan angel gives a little dark-skinned girl a sword and she becomes a Crusader! Blonde Imperialists trade goods with an Aztec tribe. War ensues. Inevitably. Pilgrims (including some adults) burn the little dark-skinned girl at the stake! The creepy Aryan angel returns, backlit and singing. And they all take a bow. I guess the video is supposed to be depicting a child’s pageant play but I am not really sure how it fits the song …

  • “First of the Year (Equinox)” by Skrillex

This one is actually pretty neat. A creepy pedophile follows a cute little girl down a set of stairs, gets his chloroform all ready while the girl is using the phone, and then the little girl turns around … and begins pummeling his creepy butt with her telekinetic/demonic skills. The “victim” exacts revenge on a lurking predator. The last shot shows the girl making a mark on a wall, perhaps representing how many pedophiles she’s killed? Interesting switch.

  • “Midnight City” by M83

More kids with telekinetic powers and freakish eyes. This one is less disturbing and more slightly unsettling.

  • “Bigger Than Us” by White Lies

I always find it disturbing when they get kids to mouth the voice of a lead singer. Here a little boy lies singing in a hospital bed while a medical team works desperately to resuscitate a chocolate bar called “Bigger Than Us.” Okay. The lead singer (who sounds a lot like Robert Smith) walks his way past the yellow tape and resurrects a … little girl … from the chocolate bar …

The little girl then walks towards herself, on a billboard, the little boy runs after her, and they kiss. Ah, puppy love. If only it didn’t feel so weird.

  • “Dark on Fire” by Turin Brakes

Yes, Gossip Girl got me into Turin Brakes, but it’s not my fault they feature killer bands on their show! Anyway, here’s a bunch of kids playing Cowboys and Indians in the forest. The fact that the song is haunting in and of itself only adds a dark element to the depiction of children and the violent games they play. All the children lie dead on the leaves except for the survivor, who is the cutest little thing who just hid behind a log with her stuffed animal.

Hunger Games, anyone?

Does anyone else have any thoughts about the creepy child trope in music videos, or disturbing music videos featuring children? Are there any videos I’ve missed?

This Charming Man

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel in "(500) Days of Summer"

 “I love The Smiths,” Summer says to Tom, and from that moment, he’s a goner.

Oh, The Smiths.

I’m only half-joking when I say that the two most important questions I should ask when considering someone are: “Do you love Jesus?” followed by “Do you love The Smiths?”

Shyness is nice and shyness can stop you from doing all the things in life you’d like to

They’re one of my favourite bands and when someone else admits to loving The Smiths or sings along to Morrissey’s maudlin lyrics, I feel an instant kinship. Like people who love Jane Eyre and John Hughes. It’s not like they’re rare things to like, it’s just that they’ve made such a huge impression on my life and when I meet someone whose life has also been shaped by these things, some groovy connection is made.

I was introduced to The Smiths by my big sister–five years older and definitely cooler–who passed on to me many amazing bands (but not Depeche Mode … ugh!), and it was probably when we were watching “The Wedding Singer” and I first heard “How Soon Is Now?” I was hooked. Douglas Coupland’s book Girlfriend in a Coma only intensified the infatuation.

I am human and I need to be loved, just like everybody else does

The Smiths sang for a generation–not mine, but the one before it since I wasn’t even born when they first came onto the scene–they sang of loneliness and despair and heartbreak and yearning. Morose lyrics, jangly guitar riffs and mordant humour, listening to them causes me to lament growing up in the Noughties and not the Nineties. It makes me yearn for the easy slouchiness of original Smiths fans wearing thick black eyeglasses frames before it was hipster and for the chain-smoking and coffee-guzzling depiction of twentysomethings in “Reality Bites.”

There is now a romanticism that surrounds the 90s–it seems to me a simpler time of plaid shirts and ripped jeans and listening to R.E.M on vinyl in your friend’s basement. The Noughties have so much excess and polish–all honesty and sincerity is obliterated and entertainment is manufactured in a lab by billionaire cool hunters. Pop culture is sold in a bubble gum machine churning out the likes of Katy Perry and Justin Bieber and it’s gross. Give me Morrissey sighing about rejection and depression anytime, any day, anywhere.

Irish blood, English heart

I might walk home alone, but my faith in love is still devout

In the book Not That Kind of Girl by Carlene Bauer, one of those losing-my-religion memoirs popular among the “raised religious until I came to my senses” set, the author speaks of growing up in the Nineties and her constant struggle between being Christian and wanting to be cool–in the sort of ’90s intellectual New York City way. In the end, coolness wins and Christianity is something she “grows out of,” along with youth group acoustic guitar sing-alongs and ice cream socials.

Early on, the author laments that she “had given up on thinking Christian rock would give (her) anything as good as U2, the Smiths, or R.E.M.:”

The music I listened to was not at odds with Christianity. The Smiths taught the same thing that Christianity did: that humans, as demonstrated not just by the war and destruction raging around us but by the masses at my high school who loved Guns N’ Roses and New Kids on the Block, were not capable of choosing the good, the higher, or the true. They were always going to choose what made them feel good, what didn’t tax them, what allowed them to wallow in cheap sentiment and pretend that everything was fine. Left to their own devices, I saw, and Morrissey confirmed, we would not strive to perfect ourselves, to right wrongs, or to think of others. The world was indeed a terrible place. But the Smiths came from an island that had no use for God anymore. We were fallen, said the Smiths, but there would be no grace.

love in vinyl

I had a lot of issues with the memoir and found some of Bauer’s personal conclusions about Christianity to be unsettling. Mainly, that Christianity and coolness are mutually exclusive. Or, that having a deep and reverent love for The Smiths,Virginia Woolf, and the Norton Anthology of American Literature, and having a deep and reverent love for Jesus is impossible. Generally speaking, most (but not all) of Christians nowadays don’t hold to the belief that your faith restricts you to music solely performed by Republicans living in Backwater, USA and novels about chaste pioneer women in bonnets. If anything, some are so bent on being “culturally relevant” that their morals have gotten lost somewhere in the first ten minutes of The Bachelorette

There is a light that never goes out

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves and cast judgment on what people choose to watch and the music they listen to. I myself need to take care that I only get on my soapbox and bemoan the flocks that throw their money to the industries that propagate the Harry Potter and Twilight franchises and Katy Perry and Justin Bieber from an artistic and critical standpoint and not a Christian one. Who am I to judge taste? Who am I to say what makes another’s heart beat faster and soul feel set on fire?

Spending warm summer days indoors writing frightening verse

I’ve long ago abandoned the hope that Christian music would give me anything as good as U2, The Smiths, and The Smashing Pumpkins (note the omission of R.E.M.) because I realized God was the one who created music, who created Bono and Morrissey and Billy Corgan who in turn give the world amazing music and I’d rather listen to them then the watered-down Christian version of them. Is the devil behind the secular music industry? I don’t really think so. Do we need to be careful about the entertainment we consume? Absolutely, but I believe it’s subjective and personal. If you don’t judge me for finding solace in The Smiths, then I’ll try really hard to not judge you for finding whatever it is you find in Twilight and Justin Bieber.

At the end of the day, I just want something honest and true. And I thank God for The Smiths.

Repeat the Sounding Joy

Et Verbum Caro Factum Est: "And the word was made flesh and dwelt among us" -- John 1:14

Yesterday I experienced something of a Christmas miracle.

I went to the mall–which, on a Monday morning was busier than a Friday evening during normal shopping hours–to purchase a gift card for my workplace Secret Santa. It was a specialty store (the name of which I cannot mention in case my coworkers read this and the Secret Santa is ruined!) and predictably very crowded with long lineups.

I got the gift card, then went to the bathroom and into some other stores, feeling kind of grumpy about being in a mall, slipping on the wet floors with my broken, trackless Aldo booties, surrounded by consumerism and Christmas greed, bitter that I had to get a gift for a coworker. I was generally a big Scrooge McDuck.

As I climbed into the van, my mom noticed that my shopping bag was ripped at the bottom and stuff I had purchased at Shoppers Drug Mart was falling out. My gift card was nowhere to be seen.

I traced my steps through the mall with no luck. I waited in a lineup at the information desk to ask if they had received any gift cards from that store, but they hadn’t. I marched/slid back to the store, receipts in hand, hoping they’d let me purchase a new card or cancel the one I had just bought. I figured there was no way in hell someone would find a gift card of that value from that store and not keep it for themselves.

It turns out human honesty and integrity are still alive and well at the Pen Centre in St. Catharines. The store clerk informed me that some kind stranger had found the gift card in the women’s washroom and promptly returned it to the store. Needless to say, I felt ashamed for having such a poor attitude about the gift exchange and my faith in humanity was restored.

Something else struck me when I was at the mall yesterday. As I was waiting for my mom to come back from Home Sense and pick me up at the mall entrance, I could hear Mariah Carey’s version of “Joy to the World” piping through the mall’s speakers. Even though I’m not a Mariah Carey fan, the words of that song are poetic and powerful and it made me wonder if people realize that Christ’ s sovereignty is being proclaimed in a centre of materialism.

Whether darting in and out of stores with arms full of gifts or busting my buns at the coffee shop during the busiest time of the year, I can’t help but notice that nestled between the trite and silly songs on the loudspeakers about “Santa Baby” and “Frosty the Snowman” are golden hymns that have been sung every Christmas in grand churches and decorated doorsteps since the days of top hats and petticoats.

let heaven and nature sing

As much as we try to be politically correct and dilute the Christian origins of Christmas under piles of candy canes and gift wrap, the songs ringing through the atmosphere proclaim a gift too immeasurable to be fit into a box with ribbons and bows and too big to be placed under the Christmas tree. The beautiful lyrics and heavenly melodies remind us of the reason why we get together with our loved ones every year and exchange presents, why we take the time out to offer each other gifts of kindness, altruism, and love in the spirit of the celebratory season.

I have a big weakness for old hymns, and the ones we sing at Christmas have a special place in my heart because of the season’s significance to my faith. The lyrics are just so rich and sacred and there’s something so lovely about singing them with others; new life is breathed into songs written in the 1700s when sung in community.

Here are some of my favourite ancient carols. Their beauty is absolutely breathtaking:

Hark the Herald Angels Sing written by Charles Wesley, 1739

Hark the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled”
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
“Christ is born in Bethlehem”
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ by highest heav’n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

 

Joy to the World — written by Isaac Watts, 1719

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

 

O Holy Night — written by Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure, 1847

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O’er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friends.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

fall on your knees ...

The picture above may be a bit tongue-in-cheek and I’m by no means anti-Santa, but the implications are profound. When confronted with the miraculous and majestic message of that silent night, the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

For your listening pleasure, here’s another beautiful old hymn performed by one of my favourite musicians:

Dearest friends and blog-readers, my wish for you this Christmas is that you’d be filled with comfort and joy. The richest blessings for you and your loved ones.

 

Animal Crackers (Or, Are All Indie Bands Animal Lovers?)

with the wild wolves around you, in the morning i'll call you

Remember how I observed that wives and daughters are hot in the titles of fiction (a trend that shows no sign of stopping)? Well, whilst on a downloading frenzy on Vuze, I couldn’t help but noticing how many (particularly) indie bands feature animals.

It’s ridiculous. Just take a look at this list I compiled without much research and the help of my bro (and if some of these bands aren’t indie per se, consider it a technicality. Most of them are):

  • Fleet Foxes
  • The Antlers
  • Said the Whale
  • Or, the Whale
  • Noah & the Whale
  • Freelance Whales (that’s four whale names in a row! Save the whales!)
  • Patrick Wolf
  • Grizzly Bear
  • Peter and the Wolf
  • Horse Feathers
  • Band of Horses
  • Modest Mouse
  • Le Tigre
  • Danger Mouse
  • Pedro the Lion
  • Bear VS Shark
  • Animal Collective
  • Caribou
  • Andrew Bird
  • Owl City
  • Animals as Leaders
  • Frightened Rabbit
  • The Unicorns
  • Plants & Animals
  • Deerhunter
  • Gorillaz
  • Sea Bear
  • Follow that Bird!

And that’s just the band names themselves. When it comes to song names or album titles, the list goes on. From the top of my head: Alligator — third album by The National; “Alligator” — song by Grizzly Bear; “The Wolves (Acts I and II)” — song by Bon Iver; “Orca” — song by Wintersleep (that whole song is about being a vicious animal, actually); “Tiger Mountain Pleasant Song” — song by Fleet Foxes; “Little Lion Man” — song by Mumford & Songs (extremely popular right now, especially among Christians); “Orion & the Dog” and “Lion Face Boy” — songs by Sea Wolf; etc., etc., etc.

i'll be a monster, clenching my jagged jaws over the capture

Naturally, I’m searching for connections and meanings because I don’t believe in coincidences. Is it a trend because indie bands seek an authentic musical experience distinct from major commercial record labels and thus connect with the natural world, ie. animals? Is it because hipsters and indie kids (the largest consumers of indie music) dig kitschy symbols of animals on everything from winter sweaters, jewelry, and ironic needle-point art?

Or am I, as always, reading too much into everything? Or, are there any bands or songs/albums I’ve missed? I love the feedback, yo.