It's one more random than 10!
It’s been a shitty week. I don’t have a more clever, humorous way to put it. Our war on childlessness is completely fucking with our heads. Stress from work managed to overflow my perspective levies and drive me to eating the 80 bushels of candy corn that we had lying around the house for Halloween. I went back to the gym for the first time since the end of July, which reminded me quite painfully just how long I had been away from the gym and how much candy corn I have been eating. And I started writing fiction again for the first time in a while, which is great, except that writing fiction makes you crazy even when it goes well.
It’s times like this that I’m glad I am a such a music fan. TV and movies give me a lot of entertainment, but honestly, not much comfort. Football could give me some comfort if the Bears hadn’t gone from Super Bowl to Super Suck. Video games have the double-edged sword of relieving stress but also causing stress when I keep getting my ass handed to me. Reading can carry me away from all this, but when I’m already stressed, I either think I’m never going to be as good as the author I’m reading or I can’t believe that this hacky fuck is successful and I arrive back at the intersection of Pissed and Depressed.
Music bypasses all of these pitfalls for me. I put on some tunes and my savage beast is immediately soothed. Singing about the blues makes me less blue, and rocking hard channels my anger into a much more positive type of fist pumping. So I am really, really looking forward to the list today.
1) “Let It Ride,” Ryan Adams and the Cardinals. I feel better already. Without getting into the did-they-or-they-they-not suck the soul out of the country rock, this song is closer to the feeling of The Eagles “Take It Easy” than “Take It Easy” is. You know, shit happens, what’re you gonna do, have a drink and relax. That’s damn good advice.
2) “Falling for You,” Weezer. I’ve got a number of irrational fears / That I’d like to share with you. I would love to have an fear-off with Rivers Cuomo, lead singer of Weezer. I’ll bet his #1 isn’t getting sucked through an airlock into space. And you call yourself irrational—ha!
3) “See the Sky About to Rain (Live),” Neil Young. Now here’s a piano man I want to sing us a song. With him just on a piano, Young’s voice has just the right amount of forcefulness and vulnerability. We’re starting to shift to the bluster of winter, and November is the stormiest time on Lake Superior, so this song is just perfect for the start of the month.
4) “Tornadoes,” Drive-By Truckers. Today’s Friday Random 11 is brought to you by The Weather Channel! A very vivid song, written by someone who sounds like he went through a tornado. When we tell people we went through a tornado, they often ask us if it sounded like a train. The Lovely Becky always has the best description: no, it sounded more like a big fucking column of wind.
5) “Train in Vain,” The Clash. On my Can’t Be Overplayed list. Even before I really liked The Clash, I loved this song. Random weird Brando bit: I do not fancy myself a singer, and I also don’t watch American Idol. But one day my mind was wandering, and I wondered what song I would sing if I wasn’t tone deaf and had compromising pictures of Simon Cowell giving a thumbs up to Right Said Fred so I could pass my Idol audition. This was the song that popped up. Such a good song that even if I did sing it on American Idol, I don’t think I could ruin it for myself.
6) “Very Loud,” Shout Out Louds. This has a skittering snare drum beat that also gives the song a train feel. It’s a desperate, earnest love song that feels like a frayed pair of blue jeans—not terribly original, but still your favorite thing to wear. That’s what most of my favorite songs wear.
7) “Carry the Zero,” Built to Spill. As George Bush would say, this is just a phenomonable song. Layers of guitars stack on top of each other with the meaty deliciousness of a Dagwood Bumstead sandwich, only without the bland aftertaste of Blondie.
8) “Enivrez-Vous,” Stereolab. Dreamy shoegazing with a little French lyric dressing. I am expecting comments from the Stereolab fetishists waiting in the wings. You know who you are.
9) “Oh!” Sleater-Kinney. Oh yes! There’s a bouncy retro feel to this, courtesy of the synthesizers and harmonies, but it also has a modern rocking punch. Plus the drum fills on the chorus fill me full of drum heady goodness. Songs need more drum fills.
10) “My Old Friend the Blues,” Steve Earle, Townes Van Zandt, and Guy Clark. This live track just features Earle on guitar. He sings like he is BFF with the blues, and hearing his warm rasp can make any day feel a little brighter.
11) “Mr. November,” The National. A rousing, fitting way to close the list and open the last month where I’m likely to still be warm. The National are the best purveyors of catchy melancholy to come down the pike in quite some time, and another reminder that you can take that frown and turn it upside down to 11.
It’s almost silly how much that helped. I hope you all take it easy, in whatever fashion you choose, and have a good weekend.