I really need to do this more than once a month.
1) “Ten Crack Commandments,” Notorious B.I.G. I watched some of the Biggie Behind the Music on VH1 the other night. First, as someone who remembers when VH1 was the place to be if you wanted to see Peter Cetera’s “Glory of Love” video on the hour every hour (100% guaranteed to make your testicles recede or your money back), it’s weird to see that channel chronicling the greatest East Coast-West Coast rap beef of all time. Second, I was riveted because I came in just before Biggie got shot. I know exactly what happens. I'm not even a big Biggie fan. And yet I had to stay tuned in so I could watch accounts of how people knew it was coming and how there’s a little Biggie in all of us (although thankfully not the same way there could be a little Uter in all of us). In fact, Behind the Music is my crack, which I guess makes VH1 Biggie in this scenario. Thank God there’s no Behind the Music channel because I would be unemployed and watching reruns of Milli (or is it Vanilli?) tearfully saying how hard it is to have one’s lip-synching mocked. Bonus video: So much depends/on Adrien Brody/making poets facepalm/beneath a hipster hat/beside the white faculty members.
2) “My Old Cars,” Chris Knight. A few weeks ago, I had the starter in my old car replaced, to the tune of "Better Than a Car Payment (But Not By Much)." The other day I went out to start it and it wouldn’t turn over. I immediately launched into a rant combining outraged consumerism and conspiracy theory (“Those fuckers probably didn’t even replace the starter, because they know I won’t know the difference, the fuckers!”) Jumping the car didn’t help, so I had to tow it out of my driveway, which felt especially embarrassing, like my mechanical ineptitude is being judged by my neighbors instead of random strangers passing me along the side of the road or parking lot. However, I felt a strong possibility that the “new” starter was faulty, which meant it was under warranty, which meant it would get replaced for free AND the shop would have to pay for the tow. I still don’t know why that filled me with such glee, but that’s why they are called feelings and not thinkings. Sure enough, it was not the starter. It was that the gear shift, while in park, was not registering it was in park. What fixed this complex mechanical problem? A little wiggling of the stick (which gets my gearbox out of park—hey-oh!). So I paid $110 to have a mechanic make me feel like a schmuck, and we didn’t even get to discuss my subconscious issues with my father. I hate cars. Love Chris Knight, though, that guy's got a voice more lived in than a VW van that's been parked at a campground for 20 years.
3) “Over and Over,” Neil Young & Crazy Horse. Possibly the only video where a band member is wearing zubaz, There should be a music festival for “and” bands. It could be called Amperbandstand and feature The News, Crazy Horse, The Gang, The Revolution, The (other) Heartbreakers, and a collaboration between Oates & Rakim on a mash-up "You've Lost That Loving Feeling/Paid in Full" that would musically encapsulate the feeling of watching rap documentaries on VH1.
4) “I Want to Know What Love Is,” Foreigner. This is what you sing after being “Hot Blooded” and a “Dirty White Boy” leaves you with herpes. I take this woman to be my wife, for better or for worse, during good times and lip sores.
5) “The Hardest Button to Button,” The White Stripes. I had to work at my company's office this week, which meant wearing pants and a shirt that had buttons, which meant having to button my shirt cuffs. Despite having to do this for more than 20 years, I am like a man with lobster claws whenever I try to button my cuffs. I always tell myself afterward that I should button the cuffs before I put the shirt on, yet always forget to do that, then feel too lazy to actually remove the shirt, instead spending five minutes swearing and wondering why I didn’t pack a polo shirt.
6) “Seven,” Sunny Day Real Estate. A little emo fits my post-Chicago-Bulls-collapse mood. I know it is extremely dumb to get emotionally attached to sports (“but they’re our overpaid millionaires!”), but again, feelings vs. thinkings. I was really crushed by the Bulls getting bounced in the first-round of the playoffs and the knee injury to Derrick Rose. As the game finished last night, I stood in my living room, like I’d just watched the death of a president. I was less upset at hearing JP Morgan's CEO saying that there needs to be less oversight in the banking industry so that banks are free to ignore divisions that have the potential to lose billions of dollars. So, yes, I am definitely part of what is wrong with this country.
7) “The World Has Turned and Left Me Here,” Weezer. It won’t be long before Weezer’s debut gets a 20th anniversary release, which will make me feel even older than seeing Chandler wearing a sweater vest with a banded collar shirt on Friends reruns.
8) “Short Bursts,” We Were Promised Jetpacks. iTunes is apparently upset today, too, and wants to just write in its journal while having a good cry before making a mixtape that SHE will never hear because she’s into HIM now.
9) “Blood on the Motorway,” DJ Shadow. This reminds me of a discussion I had with a friend of mine about Spotify. I am not currently using Spotify. My friend asked me why. I had no real answer—why wouldn’t an obsessive music nerd like myself want to be able to stream ANYTHING straight to my ears? The answer I gave was that I was “old school” and liked to own my music, even though I buy most of my annual music purchases in the form of MP3s. It’s like I can sort of embrace the changing format of music delivery, but can’t let go of past behavior. I need that bridge to the way I've always done things. DJ Shadow was like that for me. He was the first artist I ever bought from a genre that would have “-hop” in it, but he is also very proggy in his construction, especially with this nine-minute epic that features some lighters-in-the-air-at-the-state-fair vocals from someone who is most definitely Caucasian and likely wearing leather pants while sporting feathered hair. So the short answer to why I don’t use Spotify is that I am a wildly inconsistent individual who occasionally displays more nostalgia than a Republican whose concept of family values is Leave It To Beaver because, dag gum it, that's how things were when he was growing up. Unrelated: OH FACK, THIS SONG IS FACKING AMAZING.
10) “If You Leave,” Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. My GOP-level love of the 80s (i.e. Reagan is the greatest president evah because he ended the Cold War with three jellybeans and a half-tube of Brylcreem) also makes me like this song more than it probably merits. At the same time, grooving to this makes it impossible to feel more a level of masculinity higher than "Duckie." I guarantee he wouldn’t have attacked James Spader if this had been playing. Or he would have tickled him instead of throwing a punch.
11) “Love for Long,” Jenny Owen Youngs. I’m not one of those music cobags who needs to like bands no one ever heard of. I will gladly sing “Tom Sawyer” with 10,000 other nerds while air drumming after the guitar solo. If I like something, I don’t care if a billion other people do, too. At the same time, I love running into something under the radar, the unexpected discovery of an album I wind up playing to death. That’s what happened when I happened upon An Unwavering Band of Light from Jenny Owen Youngs. I was browsing around eMusic, engaged in my monthly bargain hunting, and wound up giving this a listen. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard this before—it’s so catchy that it feels like it should be enormous, but good enormous where the collective music intelligence of America rallies around something that is actually good (as opposed to, say, Coldplay). On first listen, I thought this was a little KT Tunstall—which is not bad but not exactly earth shattering. But after a few listens, I noticed that Jenny Owen Youngs sneaks in a lot of black humor into her songs. Even this ostensibly pretty ditty is an ode to a pair of lovers fleeing a murder. It’s good stuff that I never would have found without a lot of curiosity, a little time, and an Internet connection. Sounds like I need to take off the headphones, toss the cassettes aside, and get my ass on Spotify.
Bonus: "Travelin' Band," Creedence Clearwater Revival. This is a great way to head into the weekend in May. I can practically feel the ice cold beer in my hand.
Have a great weekend!
Have a great weekend!