I’m always surprised that driving wears me out. It’s not like I’m doing anything strenuous. I’m sitting in a chair, listening to tunes or talking, and occasionally getting annoyed with drivers who don’t understand that the left lane is for passing, not passing the time (I’m looking at you, Wisconsin!). Honestly, if I had a TV and controller, it would be just like playing videogames, and it’s not like I ever say I just played Halo for eight hours, and my ass is kicked! Yet two consecutive weekends of driving 18-20 hours round trip wore me out and made me just want to sit on the couch and play videogames all week.
Last weekend's engagement party for my brother Tickle and his fiancée was fun and free of fecal prop bets. I can tell the wedding will be a blast, as my future sister-in-law’s family seems a lot like ours: a fun machine that produces even more entertainment when properly lubricated with alcohol. We played a game of Balderdash on Friday, where Tickle would take five minutes to come up with an answer, only to have it be something with the word “balls” in it. Yes, he has a college degree. The clear winner of the weekend was The Lovely Becky, who not only mopped the floor with us in Balderdash, but took everyone’s money in a poker game the next night. Come to think of it, maybe staying up late drinking and playing games had something to do with me being so damn tired.
I am also ashamed to admit how excited I was to go to a real shopping mall. Not only does the local beaver trading post lack reproductive endocrinology services, it lacks something almost as vital: a Banana Republic. On to the tunes...
1) “Coming Up Close,” Til Tuesday. A classic long-distance-mix-tape song from The Lovely Becky. We made a lot of those for each other back in the day, and I this wonderful, catchy, earnest song was on the one she gave me right before I left for college. Jesus Christ, we are old.
2) “Wouldn’t Have It Any Other Way,” The Streets. The Ray Davies of English rap music. His rapping is really more like storytelling set to music, with the emphasis on the plot than the beat, with an accent that would be perfectly suited for a Guy Richie movie. This song involves our hero sitting on the couch, smoking a spliff, wondering where his relationship with his girl went wrong. Which, while not an ideal way to resolve your relationship woes, is much more effective than watching Dr. Phil.
3) “I Apologize,” Hüsker Dü. Classic 80s indie aggression. Catchy enough to sing along to, hard enough to slam around to. That’s a tough combination to get just right and it’s really what made Hüsker Dü so great.
4) “Hoboken,” Operation Ivy. The counterpoint to the above. More slammin’ than jammin’. On the surface, it almost seems like mindless hardcore, with rapid-fire shouting and a speed-addled beat. But there’s a real energy and charisma underneath that makes me want to stick around. Kind of like Hoboken itself.
5) “How Many More Times,” Led Zeppelin. I miss the time when bands could be enormously popular and still considered good. As much as the Zepp gets overplayed on (deep announcer voice) the home of classic rock in [YOUR CITY HERE], they rocked. They gave the people what they wanted—big, fat riffs and vocals so charged with sex they were like a lemon ready to be squeezed—and yet they still took a lot of chances with their music. That’s why people like the guy at Jiffy Lube and the indie rock critic getting the oil changed on his Gremlin can love them. Now it seems like if a band is popular, indie guy assumes they suck, and if it’s a great band no one has ever heard of, Jiffy Lube guy asks you to play some Zeppelin.
6) “Southern Anthem,” Iron & Wine. Not your father’s Southern Anthem. And definitely not your grandfather’s. Beautiful, wistful folk music from the real soul successor to Nick Drake.
7) “That’s What I Get,” Nine Inch Nails. The Journey of industrial music? I’m not sure, but what seemed so angry then does seem kind of corny to me now, even though I still like Reznor’s first album.
8) “To the End,” Blur. This is at the exact opposite end of their stadium-shaking woo hoo! It wouldn’t be out of place at a cocktail lounge, albeit a very cool, ironic cocktail lounge.
9) “Boomtown,” The Blasters. Classic roots rock, with that chugga-chugga-chugga train-track beat that Johnny Cash used all the time. It reminds me of driving into Barstow, seeing just enough artifacts of past prosperity to answer the question, why the fuck did anyone live here?
10) “Kreuzberg,” Bloc Party. Overdub Bono singing and this wouldn’t sound out of place on a U2 album. Whether you like it will depend on whether you think Bono is the shit or just full of shit. I am in the former camp myself, but I understand the latter and admit giggling a bit.
11) “The World Is a Mess! It’s in My Kiss,” X. I got a fever, and the only prescription...is more Hammond organ. That sweet Hammond sound takes an already perky, revved up X song and turns it up to 11. It’s one of those keyboard parts where you can feel the player standing up and doing that jerky, epileptic pounding that you only see during a keyboard solo or on every episode of Letterman. It’s as if the keyboard guy is so happy he gets to do a solo, he loses control over all motor functions except his fingers. Much like Bono, I love that shit.
Have a good weekend.