It’s one more random than 10!
Over the Christmas holiday, we got to do something we had not done since the first week in September: Go out with other couples sans children. The Lovely Becky and I have been more than happy to spend our weekends with our little girl, but a night in the company of adults still has its appeal. We were staying with my in-laws and they were glad to take their granddaughter for a night.
We met up with two other couples, people I used to work with when I lived in Chicago. We get together every couple of years to have a wonderfully entertaining dinner that usually lasts about three hours and involves oodles of humor, most of it very politically incorrect. It’s one of those nights where, even if we haven’t seen each other in a while, we take the bookmark out and pick up right where we left off.
One of the guys started talking to me about the blog, specifically the Random 11. He said that he enjoyed reading it and had found a number of songs he really liked and had purchased a few.
I know some of the regulars here have done the same thing, but I always feel odd when I see the blog having an effect on the real world. My friends and family read the blog, yet I’m always surprised when they bring it up in actual conversation. I’m always flattered, and a comment like the one my friend made about the music posts can make my week. It just feels a little strange to receive what feels like a comment in spoken form, face-to-face or over the phone, without typing or some note about what the word verification was. You know, the way people used to communicate before blogs. It’s like the streams get crossed and two worlds that should remain separate collide. Is it just my freak brain that feels this way, or do other people have the same reaction?
By the way, I'm also sorry I've been absent from many blogs. The end of year got pretty hectic and I also needed to take a little break from the Internets over the holdays. I'm now refreshed and ready to have conversations that require word verification.
On to the first tunes of aught-nine...
1) “Janie Jones,” The Clash. Do you have those songs you love and play all the time, yet have no real idea what the hell they are about? This is one of those for me. I can kind of tell it’s about some guy disenchanted with his working life or something, but beyond that, I’m clueless. Yet it still doesn’t prevent me from singing, “Fill er up, Jacko!” like I know what I’m singing about.
2) “Thumb,” Dinosaur Jr. When you can’t really sing, you really shouldn’t sing slow songs. I like Dinosaur Jr., and when they are in full rock and rollicking mode, the nasally whine of J. Mascis serves as the low-key foil to the frenetic solos and spastic drum fills. But slowed down to a slacker ballad, it focuses too much on the weakest part of the band.
3) “Whiskey Bottle,” Uncle Tupelo. Much like drinking a bottle of whiskey itself, the song starts off slow and a bit sad, before exploding into a more violent outburst during the chorus. Also, much like “Janie Jones,” I have no idea what “whiskey bottle over Jesus” really means, but I like to sing it. The link has a great live version from their last night together. Is there anything you can't find on YouTube.
4) “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” The Byrds. I like this a little better than the Dylan original, but then again, I’ve always been a little more rock and roll. The video is worth watching for the terrible introduction and the set.
5) “Heron Blue,” Sun Kil Moon. April is one of the best albums of last year, full of slow, hypnotic folk songs that repeat the same motifs like the tide coming in and out. Good enough that it leaves me snarkless.
6) “Slugs in the Shrubs,” Les Savy Fav. As Christian would say on Project Runway, “fierce.” By the way, Entertainment Weekly recently opined that the phrase “hot mess” should be retired, a nod to Christian’s “hot tranny mess.” I disagree. We’ve started feeding Libby solid foods, and she has a habit of sticking her fingers in her mouth while eating, getting drool and strained whatever all over her face, which I dub “a hot Libby mess.” I can’t wait for the parent-teacher conferences when my child’s instructors try to discuss the phrases Libby uses, and I have to pretend that I have no idea where she learned them.
7) “Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere,” The Who. Over Christmas, I bought The Who Live at Kilburn: 1977, the concert that originally was supposed to provide footage for The Kids Are Alright documentary. It’s an amazing disc that captures Keith Moon’s second-to-last live performance, with him wearing a purple outfit bedazzled with stars and sequins. I read the liner notes in the disc booklet, and there’s a quote from Roger Daltrey that said the Beatles and Stones made music to dance to, while The Who made music to fight to. That’s about as accurate and succinct a summation of there differences as I’ve ever heard. Anyway, if you’re a Who fan, Kilburn is worth checking out.
8) “No More Heroes,” The Stranglers. Possibly the only punk song to feature a keyboard solo. Given when this was recorded (late 70s) and that keyboard solos were usually played by people wearing sequined capes and singing songs about mystical lands, that’s a pretty ballsy thing to do.
9) “Let Your Loss Be Your Lesson,” Robert Plant and Alison Krause. Plant sits this one out, but still, this album is a blueprint for how to move your career in a new direction after being a shirtless, trouser-stuffed rock legend. It’s everything The Honeydrippers should have been, instead of being The Honeydrippers.
10) “Making Time,” Creation. The best song from the awesome Rushmore soundtrack. If there’s one movie I wish I could have written, it’s Rushmore. Funny, sad, sarcastic, and sincere, it’s one of the most genuine movies I’ve ever seen, ironic considering that all of Wes Anderson’s other movies have been stuffed with more artificial filler than a Chinese hot dog. The soundtrack isn’t just terrific, it’s a vital part of the movie, an enzyme that serves as a catalyst for the humor and drama in the film.
11) “Evil,” Interpol. Libby gave me Rock Band 2 for Christmas (she’s stealing our credit cards already), and much to my delight the game has Interpol’s “PDA” in it. I hope they add “Evil” because the winters here are long here and go by much faster when I have great music to play on my plastic toy instruments.
Have a great weekend.