Friday, November 9, 2012

Songs for After Dark: Don't You Know What the Night Can Do?

Considering that I'm afraid of the dark, and I've spent most of my life as a hopeless insomniac, tossing and turning in bed, one might not expect me to be quite so fond of nighttime. It's no match for those early morning hours -- my favorite time of day -- when most of the world's asleep, except for the hordes of joggers, including me, who flock to Lumpini Park to beat the heat of the rising sun.

Oh, the scorching Bangkok sun! That might be another reason why I've warmed up to nighttime more than ever over the last year or so. Aside from the bewitching running hour, it's the only time of day when one can spend more than a few minutes walking down the streets of Bangkok without being totally drenched in sweat, and the haze that's been covering the city lately blends into the black.

That the dark night rises to such lofty heights of visual splendor shouldn't be so surprising. After all, it follows sunset, the most gorgeous time of the day. I've yet to see a sunrise that can even compete with a thrilling sunset by the sea with mountains looming in the background, or one spent on the shores of a man-made body of water, like Albert Park Lake in Melbourne, marveling at the power of God (those black swans!) and man.

Another great testament to the might of night is all the great music about it. Morning has inspired plenty of lovely tunes, but it's those night songs that I'd rather have blaring from my iPod headphone speakers in the morning when I'm doing all the things I prefer to do just as the sun's coming up: running around Lumpini, writing my latest blog post, burning calories without getting out of bed, solo or with company. At times like that, I'd take the Isley Brothers "Smooth Sailin' Tonight" over "Morning Has Broken" on my soundtrack every day of the week.

10 More Reasons Why I Love the Nightlife (Besides "I Love the Nightlife")

"At Night" The Cure The best track on my third favorite band's most underrated album (1980's Seventeen Seconds).

"Nighttime" Pretty Poison "Catch Me I'm Falling" was PP's Top 10 hit, but the band is best remembered by me for the follow-up that just barely dented the Top 40 (at No. 36).

"Tender Is the Night" Jackson Browne Featuring one of the greatest outros in the history of '80s singer-songwriter pop. I used to suck at guessing which "tender" would be the end of it.

"Nights of Pleasure" Loose Ends One of the best '80s bands you've probably never heard of, unless you were black or British that decade.

"Tonight" Tamar Braxton The best Braxton song that Toni never recorded.

"Give Me the Night" George Benson One of the hits that bridged disco and '80s R&B, while providing me with the musical highlights of my 11th year or so, even if I wasn't really sure what he was singing about.

"Night in My Veins" The Pretenders Featuring Chrissie Hynde, the rock chick with whom I'd most like to spend an entire evening drinking black label Johnnie Walker.

"Night Fever" Bee Gees When the sun sets and the mercury rises, and all is still right with the world.

"Night and Day" U2 Rarely has a Cole Porter classic ended up in better hands.

"Night Songs" Cinderella Though I was never much into fairy tales -- or hair metal, for that matter -- as a kid, I always preferred Cinderella to Snow White, and in the '80s, to Bon Jovi.

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