No time for love, Dr. Jones! Just tunes.
1) “Train in Vain,” The Clash. I read a piece on Grantland about Metallica that had a much more interesting subsection on the splintering of rock music. It talked about the divide between elitist taste and mainstream taste, and there’s a tidbit about how, in 1981, CBS Records own president wanted to push The Clash’s Sandinista!, while the PR guys were pushing REO Speedwagon’s Hi Infidelity. Well, it was no contest who won—the public’s going to go for stories about cautionary tales of hearing third-hand gossip from one’s so-called friends over funky six-minute songs about cops kicking gypsies on the pavement. However, as someone who likes both The Clash and REO Speedwagon, I felt like a child caught in a musical custody battle. Here was the productive, admirable parent, the one making me do my homework but also making me a better person. And then there’s fun parent, who loves ripping off guitar solos almost as much as donuts in the parking lot. However, we all agreed that Uncle Metallica had devolved into a bitter asshole.
2) “Pacific Theme,” Broken Social Scene. I would have given a lot to be near anything Pacific yesterday, as I shoveled not only snow, but the water from the rain that fell before changing into snow and then getting covered like a Burmese tiger trap for my lower back muscles. Then again, I’ll take Midwestern weather over living amid rampaging ex-LAPD members who sound like the love child of The Punisher and Ted Kaczynski.
3) “Love, Hate, Love,” Alice in Chains. Seriously, have you read Psycho Cop’s manifesto? It’s disturbing because 95% of it is normal. At least with a Kaczynski or Manson, you know within three sentences/30 seconds that you’ve just sailed into Cape Crazy. Oh, The White Album is really about inciting a race war in America? Say, let’s get you a straight jacket. You look about a 40 Slim. But Psycho Cop starts out with an airing of grievances that’s cogent, lucid, and more polite than any YouTube thread. Except that, after rationally laying out his arguments, he decides the best solution is to murder those who wronged him and maybe their families. It’s done so casually that it’s way more jarring than any Zodiac code. He repeats this approach a few times, especially, after making great points about need for gun control, he says he’s going to illustrate his argument by killing people with his legally purchased guns. But the REALLY crazy part is when he spends a half dozen pages at the end thanking random public figures and celebrities, including this doozy:
It's kind of sad I won’t be around to view and enjoy The Hangover Ill. What an awesome trilogy. Todd Phillips, don't make anymore hangovers after the third, takes away the originality of its foundation.That’s A) nuts to include after rambling about using asymmetrical warfare against the police and B) clearly the sign of a disturbed mind if you want to see another Hangover movie after the abortion that was the second. Anyway, in seriousness, it’s fucking frightening and sad that this guy already killed people and that the cops shot up a truck with two women in it. It’s bad when L.A. Confidential seems like a more flattering portrait of the LAPD.
4) “I’m Always in Love,” Wilco. There’s a great old-school synthesizer that really makes this song (and sadly a little buried on the version on YouTube). It’s funny how, in the context of a Jeff Tweedy pop gem, that synthesizer sounds warm and female-friendly, whereas when it’s used to punctuate an immortal man trapped in caves of ice, it’s an airhorn that chases 99 out of 100 vaginas away. Unrelated: I would love to have an old school synth sound be the horn on my car. I would just lay on it traffic and make people think they were stuck in front of ELP's tourbus.
5) “Electric Fever,” Free Energy. Libby has started ice skating, and we had the discussion about how I ice skated a few times when I was a kid. I explained that it wasn’t that hard because I roller skated a lot, and that led to further explanation that I and my friends would sometimes gather for a party and go in circles around an oval on shoes with wheels attached. For the first time in 30 years, I had the desire to slap on some skates and spend the evening listening to 70s rock while trying to get the courage to ask Mary Lou Chestblossom if I could hold her hand while we went round in circles. Anyway, this song would not sound at all out of place on a night like that.
6) “Sierra Leone,” Frank Ocean. I’m surprised that I liked this album as much as I did, because I do not have much hop in my hip. But there’s a death metal parallel that explains it. I loves me some metal, but a lot of speedyblackdeath metal doesn’t appeal to me because the singers sound like they replaced their vocal chords with a garbage disposal. Yet the exact same song with clean-sounding vocals wins me over almost every time. Frank Ocean does the same for me. The arrangements are very hip-hop and R&B, but because he’s got such a great voice, I’m totally won over. I hope he cleans up at the Grammys.
7) “Stepping Out,” Joe Jackson. The Lovely Becky and I see about 1-2 non-animated moves in the movie theater per year. Last weekend, we finally arranged to see Zero Dark Thirty, with one of our lovely friends no less. A real grown-up evening, with unflinching depictions of torture and everything! Even a serious wrenching of TLB’s back a couple days before didn’t stop our quest for mature entertainment that didn’t involve talking chipmunks. In fact, TLB had some leftover Hillbilly Heroin from an earlier malady, so she popped those to get her back into a non-stress position. Well, after dinner and about 40 minutes into the movie, she began to feel an insurgency in her stomach and excused herself. A few minutes later, we got the text that it was time to accelerate our timetable for withdrawal. I don’t think you could have found a pair of parents who more closely resembled dejected four-year olds. Robbed! Plus I have no idea how the movie ended? Did they find the guy they were looking for?
8) “When You Sleep,” My Bloody Valentine. One of my New Year’s resolutions was to get more sleep. I honestly am so much in the Do As I Say, Not As I Do parent camp, especially regarding sleep. Libby is at the age where she often fights or tries to cajole her way out of going to bed. She’ll get up for the third time and, just as my patience is about to end, tells me that the reason she got up was to tell me she loves me. (My heart melts, and I instantly hand her a sixer of Jolt Cola and initiate a Chipmunk movie marathon.) Yet I, the adult, fight going to bed so much, I had to make a specific resolution to go the fuck to sleep. A month in, I think I’ve gone to bed before midnight once or twice, and those were only after collapsing like a broken CIA detainee. I wake up tired and convinced that tonight’s going to be the night for that reasonable 11 pm bedtime, and 60 minutes past that, I’m saving the galaxy, liking status updates, or just flipping two birds at the clock because I’m all growns up and can do whatever I want. I am an idiot. Unrelated tangent: With a new My Bloody Valentine album released after 20+ years, I would not have wanted to be the one cleaning the men's bathroom at the Pitchfork offices this week.
9) “Handsome Devil,” The Smiths. Like a zillion other people, I also resolved to lose some weight this year. Fatherhood has not only made me soft and weak, but my Dagwood Bumstead eating habits have me on medications to dilute the ranch dressing flowing through my arteries. One element of that is to be on a beef ban—I have cut out red meat (MY PRECIOUS!) from my diet quite a bit, saving it only for a couple times a month, tops. I had one of those occasions at TLB’s parents’ house. We had a big family dinner with steaks as the main course. I didn’t want to be rude, so I made an exception. One of the steaks was done very rare, just brown on the top and bottom and the color of murder in the middle. I picked that one, because I wanted to experience every bloody, beefy bit of flavor. My mother-in-law saw it and offered to zap it in the microwave, and I nearly stabbed her with my knife. I wasn’t about to irradiate even one parcel of Beef County in Flavor Country with some dirty bomb cooking. The best was TLB sitting next to me in horror as I savored every bite. It was so sinfully good, I felt like my mouth was committing adultery.
10) “All Day,” Ministry. The old Eurotrash Ministry, back when they would let their songs be used in beer commercials (Old Style, if I remember correctly). Okay, a beef related-tangent: TLB and I were watching Cougar Town (hilarious show), and one of the storylines had a character dishing out hamburgers from a truck stand along with insults to the customers. She became known as the “Burger Bitch.” I immediately had the idea to start a chain called Roast Beef where customers get comedy roasted by the cashiers while placing their orders. Someone would come in and order a double burger, and the cashier would say something like, This will be the most beef you’ve had in your mouth since Fleet Week. If I had the money, I would have immediately drawn up the business plan and started constructing the first of what would be a nationwide fleet of insult food joints. So it’s a good thing I don’t have that money.
11) “I Believe in a Thing Called Love,” The Darkness. Yes! Fire! The first time I heard this, I was surprised at how the singer could hit those crazy falsetto notes. Then I saw how tight his spandex body suit was and I wished I had only heard the record. The Post Traumatic Spandex Disorder has passed, though, so I can once again enjoy this puff pastry of rock ridiculousness.
Have a good weekend!