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The Life Mix

11 Dec

carpenter birdI’ve never used the daily prompt, but I like today’s. WordPress invites us to make a mix tape of our lives. Oh, hell yeah.

In college, I had a friend who was trying to hook me up with another friend of ours. She made me a seduction tape. It involved the likes of Mary Chapin Carpenter and Sade. And, oddly, The Housemartins. I’m willing to bet money Journey and Pearl Jam were involved. Did it work, you ask? PFFFFFT. Hardly. Seduction, thy name is not Susan. I have since learned seduction is less about background music and more about a fine selection of deli meats and, you know, showing up.

My friend Christy always drew intricate doodles on the front of her tapes and my friend Jason was fond of dropping some Ice Cube in the middle of an SST orgy. I liked to be cryptic and then get pissed when YOU JUST DON’T GET IT, DO YOU?? Because hormones. Also I find a well-placed Gershwin tune to be the mix tape equivalent of sorbet between courses.

A good mix tape is a thing of beauty and a joy until you find a box full of old cassettes and no tape player on which to play them. Poor orphaned mixes. I don’t need to go into the importance of proper flow and, obviously, the title. I do not wish to go into specifics of all the reasons I’ve picked these songs. And, to paraphrase Carly Simon, if you know me, you might think this mix is about you. You are probably right. I will, however, break up my mix into three categories: My Life, The Future, and A Connection Between Two  Songs I Cannot Discuss On A Blog My Family Reads But Is Part Of A Master Mix My Husband Has Been Developing In His Head For More Than A Decade.

life mix tape

 

And if you’ve gotten this far, you get a bonus! I forgot a BIG one:

Kovacs

25 Sep

I am in possession of a teenager and a pre-teen lives next door. This means I hear that Gotye song. A lot. You know the one.

 

That little ditty makes for one bastard of an earworm. Every time I hear it, I’m reminded of another little ditty that I’ve not been able to identify. It’s the little xylophone/glockenspiel/vibraphone bit in the beginning. It’s been driving me nuts. What does that remind me of? Then it hit me. Ladies and gentlemen, the Nairobi Trio.

 

Levon

19 Apr

My first and only brush with Karaoke was singing “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” with some Marines. It wasn’t always pretty, but it had feeling. Sort of like Levon’s voice. It broke, pleaded, and crackled in places, but there was never any doubt he was telling you a story you needed to sit down and listen to, son.

I’m about to be 40, so there’s never been a time in my life when Levon’s music wasn’t there. Some of my earliest musical memories are from The Band. It was a while before I really embraced the music. For a long time I didn’t think American music was okay– even though Levon was the only one who actually was American. I ran to the Brits for a while, picking up albums from Joy Division and The Style Council. My turn away from post-punk and New Wave was due to falling head-first in love with Seattle grunge and jam bands like Widespread Panic. Suddenly, synthesizers and dance music sounded self-conscious and pretentious. The harmonica, banjo, and bottleneck guitar players of home all sounded new and real.  A book of Bob Dylan lyrics my friend gave me as a half-joke was consulted frequently. (And still is. Chuck and I used it just the other night to settle a debate over whether or not Dylan wrote a certain song.) When I finally made my way around to watch The Last Waltz, I wondered why I’d wasted so much time getting there.

It’s hard to listen to Levon passively. He implores you to listen to his story, whether it’s about a poor dirt farmer, coal miner, or Confederate soldier. The music doesn’t seem to belong to any particular time. Everyone knows a song he sang or played drums in even if they don’t know it’s him. I personally schooled a couple of Marines in The Way of Levon. I wonder if they also remember the night Levon got them to take a Rebel stand, if only for three minutes.

This is only one of what will likely be thousands of tributes to Levon Helm. There are only a few people I will allow myself to get full-on sentimental for. Today I’ll not only indulge sentimentality, I’ll believe in heaven because I love the idea of a Helm, Danko, Manuel reunion.  If there is a heaven, tonight there will be one hell of a show.

We Need To Talk About The Power Ballad

22 Nov

Y’all, we’ve got to talk about the power ballad. Why is this still a thing?

I thought that band that did that one about there being a hole in his heart that can only be filled by me was The Last Of The Power Ballads, but I was gently reminded today that I was about twenty years and five Nickleback albums out of touch. I don’t know if this is a Nickleback song or not, maybe I assume all crap songs are by Nickleback, but there’s one about some dude and he’s either standing with or staring down the barrel of a forty-five. Now, I’m also assuming he’s talking a gun since only those of us who are old enough to have gotten tinnitus from a club and not an iPod know what a 45 record is. Whichever, I heard that crap today and cannot stop my ears from bleeding.

And y’all, this dude is serious. He’s emotive. I don’t have to see him to know he’s gazing soulfully out to his audience, his newly inserted highlights gleaming under the lights, his brand new artfully torn jeans worn just low enough to show off how ripped he is, but not low enough to make you think he’s gay. Hey girl, he sings, you are my spirit animal. You. Are.

BLECH.

I hated that crap when Kenny Loggins did it, I hate it even more now. At least he was authentically doing crappy power ballads. Like Poison. Deliver me from hair bands, especially when they want to dim the lights and get serious, girl. I have just always assumed that bands like Poison and Cinderella were in on the joke. You know what the problem with the Millennials is? All their bands take themselves too damn seriously. Green Day and their saccharine power ballads where they weep for the world would be almost not a half bad if they appeared to have a sense of humor. I know I get a laugh out of them, although I’m told they are not, strictly speaking, a novelty act.

But I digress.

How can I begin my Thanksgiving preparations with that crap lodged in my head? Five words: Massive doses of Warren Zevon.

I’ll probably be out the rest of the week, kids. Everyone be safe and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Here are some songs I’m thankful for:

 

 

 

 

You Totally Should (NOT) Write About That

4 Oct

Here’s the thing about having a blog. When you go to do something with friends, you get one of two reactions. Either a frightened, “Is this gonna end up on the blog?” or “I can’t believe you didn’t write about that.”

You can’t win. Your friend will prowl the blog looking for evidence you wrote about that time the two of you got kicked out of a Dollar General because they had caftans and you insisted on trying each one on and modeling it throughout the store while your friend composed a lovely running commentary describing the quality of polyester used. If it’s not there, you will be subject to a dressing down about your inability to recognize a funny story because that right there was comedy. OR you will choose to write about that time in college you came out of the bathroom at some dive and found her on top of the bar dancing to “Rhinestone Cowboy”, and even though you never mentioned her real name, said what city it was, and the song was actually “Can’t Touch This”, she is MORTIFIED BEYOND BELIEF and will seriously consider taking away your godparent privileges.

This weekend I went down to my ancestral home of Laurel, Mississippi. I mentioned it briefly yesterday, but I didn’t have a lot of time to write about it. While I was there I hung out with my old friend JASON JASON JASON. I want to make sure you know his name because yesterday I got a call along the lines of, “Dude, seriously? I didn’t even rate my name getting mentioned?” So I told him I never know how people are going to react to being mentioned by name. Then JASON said it was fine to call him by name as long as I didn’t tell the story about the time we went cow tipping and he ended up drunk and on a tractor singing that song about the tumbling tumble weeds. Kidding! That didn’t happen. Or did it?

Point being, we went to this Loblolly Festival in downtown Laurel to hear two very excellent bands, Fat Man Squeeze and Blue Mountain. You probably know Blue Mountain, but you may not know Fat Man Squeeze. You need to. You need to know a band that has a bluegrass song about Obi Wan Kenobi. The Food-On-A-Stick Lobby was well represented at Loblollypalooza ’11.  So was the Mesh Netting Lobby.

Y’all, Imma take the music down and dim the lights. I’m fixin’ to get serious. We need to talk about dog tutus. Honey, your dog does not need a tutu.

When you put a tutu on your dog, he starts plotting ways to get you back. Things like waiting until you’re all dressed up to go out to dinner and then crapping all over your new shoes. Or dragging his butt all over your new carpet. I promise you there will be a 75% increase in butt dragging the moment you bring home a tutu for Fido. Your dog does not like to wear a tutu any more than she likes having her toenails painted. Just stop. Please? I’ve never seen so many booths filled with dog tutus in my life. Okay, honestly? I’d never been to a crafts fair where there were dog tutus, but I don’t get out much.

The Mesh Netting Lobby would also like you to buy a wreath this year. For any occasion. ANY occasion. Approximately 521,309 yards of net is used to make a wreath. Or swag. You could also have a swag. Birthday? Mesh wreath. Saints game? Mesh wreath. Graduate from dental school? Mesh swag. Case of the Grumpy Mondays? Mesh wreath.

You like magnolias shot through with mesh and metallic? BOOM…

Perhaps you want to celebrate your love of flip flops? BAM…

Do you love both mesh AND John Deere tractors? It’s your lucky day, mutha humpa…

One would THINK that at a festival named after a pine tree, there would have been a number of wreaths made of pine. ONE WOULD BE WRONG. I think, perhaps, in a bit of meta-carving, one of the guys carving figures with a chain saw was carving a pine tree, but we weren’t entirely sure. There were also a number of booths displaying these yard signs painted like pumpkins and ornaments and you can get your family’s name or initials painted WHILE YOU WAIT, no less. I believe most of them were supposed to look like this,

but ended up looking more like this.

There were also a lot of t-shirts for sale that looked something like this.

Yeah, for every cool booth, there were 300 booths filled with that kind of crap. Listen, if THAT’S the bar for creative expression, I really don’t understand why I don’t have my own sitcom. For realsies.

Other than that, it was a good afternoon. Beers were drunk. Babies were cooed over. Meth heads were dancing.

Duuuude. You know there’s always that one guy? You know the one.

This is last year’s dance. He was waaaaay better this year. Those classes really paid off.

Free entertainment, folks. You can’t beat that with a stick. Even though you might want to. Over and over and over again.

The Bad Music Moment

2 Sep

The other day I was blabbing about how I hate August. Oh, but I hate August. And I mentioned that August’s favorite bands were Night Ranger and Quiet Riot. Now, it was kindly suggested to me that maybe I shouldn’t put Quiet Riot in the same category as Night Ranger as Night Ranger gave us “Sister Christian” which is one of the best steering-wheel drumming songs of all times.

Oh, so true.

Now, here’s the thing about August and Night Ranger. August is the guy who would tell you that “Sister Christian” got him through a really hard time, man. Night Ranger was there for him when no one else was. See, when I was writing about him, I was picturing August in the park at night. He had “Sister Christian” blaring from the tape deck of his AMC Pacer. The door was open and he was practicing his martial arts poses and singing. August was singing away the pain with Night Ranger. ‘Cause that’s just the kind of badass August is.

Women don’t really do the whole steering wheel drum thing, but we do belt out some stuff. I put “Sister Christian” firmly in the same camp as “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and “Come On, Eileen”. If you are of a certain age, there is no way to resist their cheesy gravitational pull. And yeah, admit it, you’ve got NO CLUE what the hell he’s saying in “Come On, Eileen” so you TOTALLY make up the words. I will also admit to buying Ouiet Riot’s opus, Cum On, Feel The Noize (Or Noise. Maybe I just want it to be spelled with a z), and I believe I purchased it at the Laurel, Mississippi TG&Y. I cannot be certain. It was either there or Sound Shop at Sawmill Square Mall. If that’s the case, I’m sure said purchase was followed up with a sticker-buying spree at Coach House Gifts and then corndogs at Corn Dog Heaven or Seven, I don’t remember. Also I know if it came from Sound Shop I IMMEDIATELY affixed the tape guarantee sticker to the back of the cassette case. I just tried to find a picture of one of those stickers, but I couldn’t. So now I haz a sad.

Point is, I openly and freely admit–without coercion of any sort– to buying that Quiet Riot album. It did not get me through a hard time, man. It did not speak to me. I had a Bad Music Moment. And I shall own up to it. Oh, please, like you didn’t buy that Nu Shooz album in 1986? Don’t you dare judge me. We’ve all been there. Nena? “99 Luftballons“? The 45, son. Scritti Politti? Don’t remember them and their one song, “Perfect Way“? Give me a while and I bet I could dig up the album. Blow Monkeys? Check. Swing Out Sister? Yup. The Hooters? Hellz yeah.

Oh, there was a sad, two-year fascination with Eddie Van Halen and the Eddie Van Halen band. Please don’t give me shit for putting Van Halen on my list. Make your own damn list. And I cannot let it go without saying that anyone who has known me for any length of time knows about my near-obsession with Adam Ant. And by near-obsession I mean I’d have licked him had I ever been in the same room with him. I was totally blown away with Nirvana, but now all I can hear when I listen to them is The Beatles, and I’m a Stones girl. Yes, there was a time when I thought Sex Pistols were punk, but I got over that quickly. I’ll even own up to a dalliance with that Phil Collins song, “Separate Lives“.

My favorite songs when I was little were “Afternoon Delight” and “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” so you can see I’ve always had a range from crap to classics. And classic crap, for that matter. Also, can we just take a moment to salute my parents for letting four-year-old me get down to songs about gettin’ some at lunch and then ditching your old lady? And let’s talk about Cher. There were three women I idolized in the ’70s: Cher, Dolly Parton, and Charo. Yes, I was a tiny drag queen. Sonny and Cher? Oh yeah. I own that. I don’t care how crappy. Okay, to be honest, I couldn’t finish the song I just linked to. But I blame that on Sonny, not Cher. And have you HEARD Charo shred some flamenco? You can kiss my ass in Macy’s window if you think you can do better than that.

My tastes have changed significantly since 1984, thanks be to all. But I still find myself defending the unsung heroes. Like Rush. I know, I know. I never really understood Rush until Primus. And now, every year when the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame inductees are named I shake my fist and yell at anyone who will listen that IT IS A CRIME Rush is not listed. Oh, and don’t get me started on Warren Zevon. The man is more than that one song about werewolves, okay? You know what, I’m not going any farther down this road because it will make me bitch all day and I’ve got to pack so I can get in the woods this weekend.

So…

Here you go. My Top Three ’80s Singing Out Loud In The Car Songs (in no particular order):