Friday, November 30, 2007

Bye, Bye, Bye

I’ll be visiting my old college, SUNY Purchase, this weekend, so I won’t be posting on Saturday and Sunday.

But before I go, a story: On the subway this morning, a man with a homemade trolley made of rubber wheels, cardboard and what looked like the noodles you use in the pool (here’s a pic) was announcing that if anyone on the subway was hungry, they could grab some food from him. I see these Givers, for lack of a better term, occasionally on the train, and normally they bring with them sandwiches, something to drink and a kind word about God. While glancing through what the man was hawking, I noticed about 30 cassettes on his trolley. Upon a closer look, I saw that they were mostly religious tapes with occasionally something more “urban” like one called “Alley Oops,” but amidst the musical rubble, I noticed tapes for the Grateful Dead and Yes. Actually, the label said “Greatful Dead,” which is on more Facebook accounts than I count—I’ll bet they’re the true fans.

I guess the thing that’s going to make the homeless and hungry feel better about themselves are the Dead and Yes. Why didn’t I think of that?!?

Five Best...Chinatown Songs

#5. “Shoot Out in Chinatown” by the Band

Shoot out in Chinatown
They nailed up every door
They're gonna level it to the ground
And close it up for evermore

#4. “Why Can’t We Be Friends” by War

I seen you walkin' down in Chinatown
I called you but you could not look around

#3. “Shore Leave” by Tom Waits

And I wondered how the same moon outside
Over this Chinatown fair
Could look down on Illinois
And find you there
And you know I love you baby.

#2. “Fat” by Weird Al

My zippers bust, my buckles break
I'm too much man for you to take
The pavement cracks when I fall down
I've got more chins than Chinatown

#1. “Chinatown Calculation” by Doug and the Slugs

Whoever the new mystery man is
I've got to admit, he knows his business
You're reading me now
From the right to the left
And it's coming out just the way you might expect
Chinatown Calculation.
That's cool with no regrets.
(Chop suey, chop chop suey)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Five Best...Lizzy Songs

#5. “Rag Doll” by Aerosmith

Yes I'm movin',
Yes I'm movin',
Get ready for the big time,
Tap dancing on a land mine.
Yes I'm movin',
Yes I'm movin',
Old tin Lizzy, do it till you're dizzy,
Give it all ya got until you're put out of your misery.

#4. “Lizzy” by Ben Kweller

Like Mama said, don’t ya let it go to your head
When ya know you're being fed
I'm so proud to know you
Lizzy, I'll write, I'll sing
Telegraph, telegram
Telephone, tellin' you
I'll be home soon

#3. “I’m a Cuckoo” by Belle & Sebastian

I'd rather be in Tokyo
I'd rather listen to Thin Lizzy-oh
Watch the Sunday gang in Harajuku
There's something wrong with me, I'm a cuckoo

#2. “Sound of Science” by the Beastie Boys

I've got science for any occasion
Postulating theorems formulating equations
Cheech wizard in a snow blizzard
Eating chicken gizzards with a girl named Lizzy
Dropping science like Galileo dropped a orange

#1. “Dizzy Miss Lizzy” by the Beatles

You make me dizzy, Miss Lizzy
The way you rock and roll
You make me dizzy, Miss Lizzy
When we do the stroll
Come on, Miss Lizzy
Love me before I grow too old

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Five Best...'Wonderful' Songs

#5. “Wonderful” by Everclear

I want the things that I had before
Like a Star Wars poster on my bedroom door
I wish I could count to ten
Make everything be wonderful again

#4. “Wonderful Wino” by the Mothers of Invention

L.A. in the summer of '69
I went downtown and bought some wine
I wasted my head on 3 quarts of juice
And now the grapes won't cut me loose

#3. “Wonderful Life” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Speak our secret into your hands
And hold it in between
Plunge your hands into the water
And drown it in the sea
There will be nothing between us, baby
But the air that we breathe

#2. “Wonderful World” by Sam Cooke

Don't know much about history,
Don't know much biology.
Don't know much about a science book,
Don't know much about the French I took.
But I do know that I love you,
And I know that if you love me too,
What a wonderful world this would be

#1. “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
Bright sunny days, dark sacred nights
And I think to myself,
What a wonderful world

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Stand By Me

One of the most adult kid movies I’ve ever seen is Stand By Me. Based on a short story by Stephen King, Stand By Me is a movie about four 12-year-old boys looking to find a dead body. But that description doesn’t do the film much justice because there’s so much more to it than that—and it’s greatly helped by the fantastic acting of River Phoenix (Chris), Jerry O’Connell (Vern), Wil Wheaton (Gordie) and Corey Feldman (Teddy).

If ever you want to see a movie with a kid old enough to hear the word “shit” and appreciate how much having a leech on your you-know-what would hurt, this is definitely worth a rent from Blockbuster or Netflix—especially with a slice of blueberry pie.

Here are my favorite lines from the movie:

Vern: Come on you guys, let's get moving.
Teddy: Yeah, by the time we get there, the kid won't even be dead anymore.

Vern: You guys wanna go see a dead body?

Teddy: Okay, you guys can go through the woods, but I am going right here across this bridge. And when you guys will get to the other side, I will be sitting in there, relaxing with my thoughts.
Gordie: Do you use your left hand or right hand to do that?
Teddy: You wish.

Chris: You four-eyed pile of shit.
Teddy: A pile of shit has a thousand eyes.

Gordie: Fuck writing, I don't want to be a writer. It's stupid, it's a stupid waste of time.
Chris: That's your dad talking.
Gordie: Bullshit.
Chris: Bull true.

Gordie: I'll see ya.
Chris: Not if I see you first.

Vern: You think Mighty Mouse could beat up Superman?
Teddy: What are you, cracked?
Vern: No, I saw him on TV the other day, he was holding five elephants in one hand.
Teddy: Boy, you don't know nothing. Mighty Mouse is a cartoon. Superman's a real guy. There's no way a cartoon could beat up a real guy.
Vern: I guess you're right. It'd be a good fight though.

Gordie: Do you think I'm weird?
Chris: Definitely.
Gordie: No man, seriously. Am I weird?
Chris: Yeah, but so what? Everybody's weird.

Chris: It's like God gave you something, man. All those stories you can make up. And He said, this is what we got for you kid, try not to lose it. But kids lose everything unless there's someone there to look out for them.

Gordie: Alright, alright, Mickey's a mouse, Donald's a duck, Pluto's a dog, what's Goofy?
Vern: If I could only have one food for the rest of my life? That's easy, Pez, cherry-flavored Pez. No question about it.
Teddy: Goofy's a dog. He's definitely a dog.
Gordie: I knew the $64,000 question was fixed. There's no way anybody could no that much about opera!
Chris: He can't be a dog. He drives a car and wears a hat.
Gordie: Wagon Train's a really cool show, but did you notice they never get anywhere? They just keep wagon training.
Vern: Oh, God. That's weird. What the hell is Goofy?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Five Best...Spaghetti Songs

#5. “Neal and Jack and Me” by King Crimson

Strange spaghetti in this solemn city...
There's a postcard we're all seen before...
Past wild-haired teens in dark clothing
With hands-full of autographed napkins,
We eat apples in vans with sandwiches...rush

(I had to include this one because it's so terrible)

#4. “Spaghetti Western” by Primus

Laurel and Hardy's the best bet at 4 a.m. on a Friday.
No dreads about the working day after though.
Funny thing about weekends when you're unemployed,
They don't mean quite so much, except you get to hang out with your working friends.
Well, we got us a spaghetti western on 36.

#3. “Lose Yourself” by Eminem

His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy
There's vomit on his sweater already, Mom's spaghetti
He's nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready

#2. “On Top of Spaghetti” by Tom Glazer

On top of spaghetti, all covered with cheese
I lost my poor meatball when somebody sneezed
It rolled off the table, it rolled on the floor
And then my poor meatball rolled out of the door

#1. “Lasagna” by Weird Al

You want-a some-a lasagna magnifico
Or a-maybe spaghetti
Ay, you supper's a-ready now, where you go
Mama mia bambino
Mama mia bambino, 'samatta you
'Samatta you, 'samatta you

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Playlist, Vol. V

Here's another chance for all you readers to see the bands and artists that I may listen to but haven't yet mentioned in a posting. I put my iPod on shuffle, write down what’s played and, like it always seems to, a song from Elvis Costello’s Goodbye Cruel World did come up. Here’s what I heard:

"Girl Friend" by Modern Lovers
"Young Boy Blues" by Elvis Costello
"The Real Me" by The Who
"Mabel's Dream" by King Oliver
"Slide" by The Goo Goo Dolls
"Midnight Rambler" by The Rolling Stones
"Boom Boom" by The Yardbirds
"Dance All Night" by Ryan Adams
"How Long" by Lead Belly
"Big Black Baby Shoes" by Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band
"Live at PJ's" by the Beastie Boys
"Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)" by Jimi Hendrix
"Sunday Morning" by The Velvet Underground (live)
"Lay Low" by My Morning Jacket

Friday, November 23, 2007

Five Best...Songs from I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight

#5. “Has He Got a Friend For Me?”

Saturday night and I’m all alone
No ring on the door bell, no ring on the phone
And nobody wants to know anyone lonely like me

#4. “Withered and Died”

Silver moon sail up and silver moon shine
On the waters so wide, waters so wide
Steal from the bed of some good friend of mine
My dreams are withered and died

#3. “I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight”

Meet me at the station don’t be late
I need to spend some money and it just won’t wait
Take me to the dance and hold me tight
I want to see the bright lights tonight

#2. “The Great Valerio”

How we wonder, how we wonder
Watching far below
We would all be that great hero
The great Valerio

#1. “The Calvary Cross”

I was under the Calvary Cross
The pale-faced lady she said to me
I’ve watched you with my one green eye
And I’ll hurt you ‘till you need me

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thank You for the Music, the Endless Music

Some of the (musical) things I’m thankful for:

The guitar solo on “Why Does Love Have to Be So Sad?” by Derek and the Dominos
Jeff Tweedy’s vocals on the live version of “Jesus, Etc.” from Kicking Television
Tom Waits’ ballads
The live version of “It Makes No Difference” from The Band’s The Last Waltz
“God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys
The beats the Beastie Boys use in their songs
The Beatles
“Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards” by Billy Bragg
Howlin’ Wolf’s vocals on “Built for Comfort”
How much of Bo Diddley’s work still sounds fresh
Blind Willie McTell’s voice
“Atlantic City”
All the different solos on “Kitty’s Back” from Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s Live at Hammersmitth Odeon ‘75
The intensity of Buddy Holly (listen to “Oh, Boy!” and try to argue)
The perfection of “What Do I Get?” by the Buzzcocks
The lameness of Canned Heat’s “Amphetamine Annie”
Captain Beefheart’s originality
Chuck Berry (even “My Ding-A-Ling”)
The Clash and London Calling
My memory of the first time I heard “Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby” by Counting Crows
“Mother’s Lament” by Cream
Creedence Clearwater Revival
The epic that is Weird Al’s “Albuquerque”
Every time that Neil Young sings lead on Cosby, Stills, Nash & Young
“Pusherman” by Curtis Mayfield
The ridiculousness of David Bowie
Young, Loud & Snotty by the Dead Boys
The lyrics of the Decemberists
Ella’s scatting
My Aim is True, Get Happy!!, Armed Forces and This Year’s Model by Elvis Costello
“Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley
The Everly Brothers
The fact that Sinatra sounds amazing at 3:13 a.m.
That on one album, Zappa will sound amazing while on another, he’s terrible
All Things Must Pass by George Harrison
Hank Williams
The guitar playing of Hubert Sumlin
The fierceness of Husker Du
Jimi Hendrix’s guitar playing
The fact that John Cale is still totally overshadowed by Lou Reed
That Johnny Cash’s version of “John Henry” was the first one I ever heard
The Kinks
Lightin’ Hopkins’ guitar work
The humor in a Louis Jordan song
That maybe I haven’t given Lynard Skynard enough credit…
High Time by MC5
Miles Davis Quintet
How “Ice Cream Man” from the Modern Lovers’ Live never ends
The ridiculousness of the Mountain Goats…but in a totally different way than Bowie
Muddy Waters’ voice
Neil Young
Finding “new” artists—aka, artists not recording in the 1960s (Neko Case, Sufjan Stevens, My Morning Jacket, Wilco, etc.)
Nearly everything Nick Cave has recorded with the Bad Seeds
“Dry Your Eyes” by Neil Diamond from The Last Waltz
Once More, With Feeling
Every song recorded by Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett
How Patti Smith only has one album worth your time: Horses
“East/West” by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band
Graceland by Paul Simon
Bob Dylan
“Where Do You Go To My Lovely?” by Peter Sarstedt
David Thomas from Pere Ubu
The ultimate guilty pleasureness of Phish
The fun in listening to The Queers
OK Computer by Radiohead
The Ramones making a sub-par song like “Do You Wanna Dance?” sound fantastic (oh, and “Beat on the Brat”)
How lonely the Replacements’ Let It Be sounds on a Saturday night
Blank Generation
Richard Thompson (why isn’t he more popular?!?!?)
The sloppiness of the Rolling Stones’ great albums: Let It Bleed, Exile on Main Street, etc.
“Twistin’ the Night Away” by Sam Cooke (his voice, too)
Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ outrageousness
The distortion in a Sonic Youth song
The noise in a Stooges song
Every song that Sufjan Stevens plays the banjo on
“(Nothing But) Flowers” by Talking Heads
“Marquee Moon” by Television
The fact that Traffic is really lame except for a few songs (“John Barleycorn” and “The Low-Spark of High-Heeled Boys” come to mind as classics)
The Velvet Underground
That Van Morrison’s “St. Dominic’s Preview” is my top-played non-Dylan song on my iPod
Live at Leeds by The Who (mostly for two songs: “A Quick One…” and “Substitute”)
“Good Lovin’” by The Young Rascals

There are many more, but those that I've thought about recently. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Five Best...Songs from I'm Not There

#5. "As I Went Out Morning" by Mira Billotte

One of the more "obscure" songs on the soundtrack, it's also one of the few women on it. Although I've never heard of Mira Billotte, I'm damn surprised at how good she is. Just like how it appears on John Wesley Harding, the song is commanded by the bass line and drumming, making the guitar almost pointless, while Billotte clearly knows how to maneuver her way through a Bob Dylan song--something that many people have tried and failed at.

#4. "Simple Twist of Fate" by Jeff Tweedy

It's not a surprise that I'm a huge fan of Wilco, and this became the first song I listened to after buying the album (I already possessed a copy of Dylan's "I'm Not There," so it wasn't a big deal for me.) Tweedy does an impressive job of sounding like Dylan in his straining vocals, and the backing musicians make the sadness of "Simple Twist of Fate" come into the foreground.

#3. "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" by Ramblin' Jack Elliott

I've never been a big fan of Ramblin' because I could just easily listen to Woody Guthrie, and get basically the same song but better. But here, when he's impersonating Dylan, I might have to change my mind. Unlike the Highway 61 version, this one goes acoustic; something that I didn't think would work, but in the execution, you realize how much Ramblin' respects "Tom Thumb's Blues," and does it justice...and then some.

#2. "Ballad of a Thin Man" by Stephen Malkmus

The original "Ballad" is not a favorite of mine; in fact, I normally skip it while listening to Highway 61 Revisited. But as for the version on The Bootleg Series, Vol. 4, I'm left in awe at how good Dylan sings and plays the piano, and how amazing of an organ player Garth Hudson is. Thankfully, Malkmus covers the live version, not the studio one, and he just totally owns the track.

#1. "Goin' to Acapulco" by Jim James

It's haunting how much James sounds like Dylan on this Basement Tapes track. The voice is a little more echo-ing and slightly more nasal, but he sings with the same style that made Dylan's vocals from those sessions so great. The addition of the horns as a key instrument makes the song sound contemporary and from another decade at the same time--no small feat.

Honorable Mentions
"Stuck Inside a Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again" by Cat Power
"Pressing On" by John Doe
"When the Ship Comes In" by Marcus Carl Franklin
"I'm Not There" by Sonic Youth

At 9:15 p.m. tonight, I'll be in the Film Forum finally seeing I'm Not There. I bought tickets for my girlfriend, Nadia, and I months ago, and my excitement is reaching a point that only a movie like The Simpsons Movie could attain.

When I first heard about I'm Not There, I was understandably questionable. I mean, do we need something that contains the words "Dylan" and "surreal?" But as the movie premiere has gotten closer and people I respect have told me that they loved the movie (Greil Marcus, for instance), I'm expecting something wonderful for 2 hours and 15 minutes tonight.

Other Bob Stuff:
Cover story from the Village Voice
Review from the New York Times
My current Facebook picture

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


A few days ago, I posted something I wrote from a class I took in the Fall 2006 semester and today, I'm posting a piece that I wrote just a few days ago for my non-fiction class. The reason is because many of the events in them deal with music, and feels like a shame to just let the piece the die after getting it graded. So, here's Embarrassment:

I remember the embarrassing things that have happened to me in my life easier than I remember the good things, like my first kiss or the first time I got an “A” on a paper. There aren’t as many embarrassing moments as there good ones in your life, so they’re much easier to not forget. And boy is that ever true:

I remember the time when I thought the way to impress a girl was to buy her a ticket to a Britney Spears concert. It could just as easily been Pearl Jam (who were playing only three days before at the same venue), but I instead went with Britney, who was in the midst of her Oops, I Did It Again tour. After not calling Allison, the girl I was looking to woo, for practically the entire summer (which, I guess, I thought was the right thing to do), we got together the day of the concert, and right before going through the turnstiles, she noticed that she had lost her ticket. And I bought her another ticket…well, that would have been the smart thing of me to do, but instead she bought herself the ticket—and she had also paid for her original ticket too. So, for a show that I’d later find out she didn’t even want to go to, she paid over 100 bucks. You can imagine how the rest of the night went.

And that was my first date.

I remember when I was on a bus to Camp Nassau, which is where I spent two summers of day camp, with this incident happening in the summer of 1999. Sitting in the back, I noticed two sheets of paper on the ground, and picked them up. I wasn’t sure what I thought they were, but I read the first two lines: “Somebody once told me the world is gonna roll me/I ain’t the sharpest tool in the shed.” I went on to read the whole song, and soon after heard some kid much bigger than me yell out, “Where the hell are my lyrics to ‘All Star’?” I didn’t know the song’s title, but had to assume that there wasn’t another set of stray lyrics on the bus, so I shyly held them up over the seat so that he could see them. Getting out from his seat, the kid grabbed the papers and said, “Why the hell did you have these?” I responded back, “I, um, I found them. I’m, uh, sorry…” With the knowledge that everyone in the area was looking at him, he fiercely responded back, “Damn right you are. Do it again, you’re dead.” The typical response of a 13-year-old boy looking to prove himself. To this day, I can’t listen to Smash Mouth—although that’s partially because they stink.

And that was the first time I almost got beat up.

I remember when my girlfriend at the time couldn’t go to the prom because she was a year younger than me and her Mom wouldn’t let her go. So instead, I had to take her best friend, Allison—a different Allison, mind you. I had never met Allison #2, but it didn’t really matter because a) she wasn’t my girlfriend and b) she wasn’t who I wanted to go to prom with. I had also never seen a picture of her, and was forced to rely on one conversation over AIM to shape what she was like. Needless to say, things didn’t work out well, I heard snickering behind my back at prom while we participated in the most awkward slow-dance ever and she ended up making out with my friend later that night in a drunken haze—something that I wasn’t all that irritated over.

And that’s the closest I’ll ever get to a blind date. And get involved with someone named Allison.

I remember practicing for my graduation from elementary school where everyone had to act out what actual graduation in front of our parents was going to be like. For some reason, I was very nervous and before we even really started rehearsing, I felt myself silently burping and sweating, but didn’t do anything about it. When it started to get worse, I tried to get permission from my teacher to go to the nurse but she didn’t see me. I knew something bad was going to happen, so without permission, I ran to the nurse and made it just in time to vomit into a nicely placed trashcan—right in front of one of my other classmates whom I had been arguing with for essentially the whole year.

And that was the last time I would ever wait to puke.

I remember, to continue with the semi-disgusting embarrassing stories, the time I was in a program in elementary school called After School Activity Program, or ASAP, and I peed my pants while making a snack called Ants-on-a-Log, which is simply celery coated with peanut butter with raisins acting as the “Ants.” I didn’t have another pair of pants, so I was forced to pillage through the school’s lost and found box, and ended up with a pair of gray sweatpants that I, even at that young age, knew weren’t stylish. It also made it obvious to everyone that something had happened to my old pants, and it didn’t take much stretch of the imagination to guess what that was.

And that was the last time I peed my pants.

I remember the first time I tried taking a girl’s bra off. It was with my longest lasting girlfriend, Hannah, and on the floor of her living room. After making out for quite some time, I reached under her shirt and stealthily tried to get her bra off in one quick move, like you see in the movies. But sadly, because I hadn’t done this before and was suffering terrible allergies from her cats, I had moves closer to Woody Allen than Marlon Brando. After not getting it after the first try, I instead went to rubbing her back, hoping that she hadn’t noticed what I was attempting to do. A few minutes later, I tried again. And again, I had no success. Waited 3 minutes, tried again and failed. Hannah pulled away and asked, “Are you trying to take this off?” pointing to her bra. I sheepishly answered affirmatively, and she did it for me. I was happy to reach my goal, but upset that this was going to happen all over again because she didn’t actually show me how, she did it herself.

And that was the first time I acted like an idiot while kissing someone. And definitely not the last.

I remember another time with Hannah where we, once again, were kissing and things were about to progress to the skill I had now accomplished mentioned above, when, for no reason, I asked Hannah a question about Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I can’t quite remember what the question was exactly, but that’s sort of beside the point. At that moment, while kissing a girl I loved her, I felt the impulse to ask her about a boy wizard, with no attempt at humor meant for.

And that’s the last time, well, I’d ever do that again.

I remember the first time I took a hit from a bong. It was on my friend Tom’s porch that hung over the driveway and had a good view of the street mere feet away from the house’s ground level. He and I were hanging out with a mutual friend, Josh, when Tom asked if we wanted to “smoke up.” Not being one to pass up an opportunity for free weed, I said sure, and expected him to take out his handy red and black glass pipe. But, instead, he told us to follow him out of the living room where we were sitting onto the outside porch—but not before grabbing a small plastic soda bottle. I didn’t know exactly what he was doing by grabbing that, but I had an idea. After decorating the bottle with a slash and some tin foil, I definitely knew what we were about to do. Sitting in a circle on the unusual turf carpeting of the porch, Tom and Josh put the bong together while I sat around looking pretty and wondering what I was going to do. When they were finished, Tom got the first hit, passed it to Josh who also took a hit and then passed it to me. I had been watching them but was a little too nervous to really have paid attention. But I knew what I had to do, so I got ready to take a hit and…exhaled. I knew something was going wrong because I was feeling nothing and they looked pissed at me. Turns out, when you exhale, nothing happens and you get the weed soaked, making it rather useless.

And that’s the last time I would ever use a bong with Tom.

I can remember going to the hospital in a stretcher although I was perfectly conscious. During my brief stay at SUNY Purchase, I became very depressed (hence the “brief” part) and thought it would be a good idea to, what they would call later, “harm myself” by taking pills. When I did this, I was commuting from my Uncle’s house because they kicked me out of school housing due to a previous similar incident. He brought me to the ER and, after getting tested, the doctors decided I needed to be in a psychiatric center (another term I like to use), and they called an ambulance. I really wish my Uncle could have brought me, but they wouldn’t allow that. So, I was put into a straight jacket, cutting off all movement that I wouldn’t have used anyways because I was very calm, solemn even. Walking through a hospital while being escorted by two ambulance drivers in that jacket is something that I won’t soon forget, for although the other aforementioned events were embarrassing, this was a new kind of embarrassment. Those were individual moments that are mostly forgotten by everyone but me (although I’m sure Allison remembers the concert…), but this one played a heavy role in my life, and was a different kind of judgment than people thinking that maybe you peed your pants when you’re a 8-year-old kid because you’re wearing different pants than you were before.

And that’s the last time I would be in a straight jacket and go to the “psychiatric center.”

I remember when I was trying to get some private time with my current girlfriend, Nadia, at my William Street dorm. I live in an Open Double in the Open part, which means that the room I have my bed in also has another bed 10 feet away and the entire kitchen. There’s another room in the dorm that is closed off, and has only one person sleeping in it. Nadia and I had planned a good time to go into the other room when the roommate, Baxter, who lives in there would be gone. Once we knew he wasn’t coming back (and the other roommate wasn’t in the Open part, for he could “tattle” on us), we went into the room, and started to, ahem, mess around. After about five minutes, I thought I heard the main dorm door open and close, and was immediately on alert. Turns out this caution served me well, because it was Baxter and, just like in the movies, he started turning the doorknob to his room very slowly. I raced over to the door, and barricaded it with my body so he wouldn’t come on. He kept trying to open it, and I said something like, “Hey, I’m just watching a movie in here,” which gives no explanation for why I was keeping him out of his room, a room I didn’t have permission to be in anyways. After this, he gave up trying to open the door and said, “I’ll come back in a few minutes.” Nadia started to laugh, while I wanted to do the same but couldn’t bring myself to do so because of how much of an asshole I felt right there. We straightened ourselves out, and went back to my bed and watched TV. After a few minutes passed, the door opened. I expected to see Baxter, so I was surprised to see his friend. I knew that he must have known what had happened so I told him, “Tell Baxter that I’m so, so sorry. And don’t worry, we weren’t doing that.” The friend grabbed something from the room, laughed and left. For some reason, I thought leaving a note on Baxter’s pillow would be a good idea; sort of a twisted Tooth Fairy action, I suppose. Roughly an hour later, Baxter came back with two friends, and I just said, “I’m so sorry.” He laughed and told me, “It’s alright. I figured what was going on because I know Nadia’s here a lot. It was my friend,” he pointed to the guy who came in earlier, “who thought you were in there by yourself, if you catch my drift.”

And that’s the last time I would go into Baxter’s room.

Many of these events were quite inconsequential; I mean, all kids vomit in school at some point or do something awkward while making out with someone. But I can remember all of these events quite clearly, as if they were all recent occurrences while, in fact, many of them are from years and years ago. Although I’m ashamed of most of these (for varying reasons), I am sort of happy with them because they can make for one heck of a story.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Here, There, Everywhere

From an article found on

Why are the Dolphins taking yet another chance on running back Ricky Williams, who has played just 12 games in the NFL in the past four seasons? How's that song go, "When you've got nothing, you've got nothing left to lose?"

To quote Bob Levinson, "Bob is Everywhere."

Five Best...Songs from Making Movies

#5. "Solid Rock"

Because the heart that you break
That's the one that you rely on
The bed that you make,
That's the one you gotta lie on
When you point your finger, 'cause your plan fell through
You got three more fingers pointing back at you

#4. "Espresso Love"

She gets the sun in the daytime,
Perfume in the dusk.
And she comes out in the night time,
With the honeysuckle musk

#3. "Skateaway"

She gets rock 'n' roll, a rock 'n' roll station
And a rock 'n' roll dream
She's making movies on location
She doesn't know what it means
But the music make her wanna be the story
And the story was whatever was the song, what is was
Roller-girl don't worry
DJ play the movies all night long

#2. "Tunnel of Love"

And the big wheel keep on turning, neon burning up above
And I'm just high on the world
Come on, and take a low ride with me, girl
On the tunnel of love

#1. "Romeo and Juliet"

A lovestruck Romeo sings the streets a serenade
Laying everybody low with a love song that he made
Finds a convenient streetlight, steps out of the shade
Says something like, "You and me, babe, how about it?"

On a separate Dire Straits note, I walked into the Lemongrass Grill restaurant sometime last night around 1 a.m. I was hoping to get some chicken pad thai, but was instead treated to "Sultans of Swing" being totally butchered by a balding man in his 40s with a slew of Asian woman all around him.

And I also couldn't get my pad thai. What a terrible, terrible experience it was.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Should I 'A" or Should I 'B?'

(From an essay I wrote in my Sociology of Popular Music course)

After noticing the bare cupboards, the decision is made to go to the grocery store. Do you go to Store A which although closer, the overall appearance depresses you, or Store B with its sunnier disposition and better sounding music? The question is practically rhetorical and the decision is made to go to Store B.

As you walk from the parking lot to the store, you begin to notice the flowers all around the perimeter of it and the “light” pop music coming from inside its walls. Is it John Mayer? Dave Matthews? If not them, it’s got to be someone like them.

In the vestibule, you pick up your cart and notice that the song has skipped over to the Counting Crows’ “Mr. Jones.” Humming along to it (“I wanna be Bob Dylan”), you go through the 13 or so aisles while in a pleasant mood. You’re glad you picked B over A (after all, they play fake contemporary music) and before you know it, you’re finished with the groceries.

Paying for your food, you notice over the doors that it says, “Welcome!” in roughly a dozen different languages. After pondering why they write that in an area you notice when you’re leaving, you glide through the mechanical glass doors, put your groceries in the car, and drive away.

Another successful trip to the supermarket.

* * *

The process of going into a supermarket is normally thought of in the context of getting food, paying for it, and getting out of there. The management of the company hopes you have a pleasant time without you even realizing you’re having one. Millions of dollars and hundreds of hours are spent on this task and if people don’t think about the schematics of the store, the task is complete.

For instance, is it any coincidence that the first food item you come across is the fruits and vegetables while the last thing you come across is frozen? By having the “greens,” if you will, at the beginning of the store, it shows the “freshness” of the store and how much they take care of their non-packaged food. The frozen food being last makes perfect sense because if you put ice cream in your cart first and then spend an hour shopping, there’s a good chance that it’ll start to have melted by that point.

The brightness of the store is supplied by fluorescent lights. It gives the store a very medical, sterile look which is important due to its associations with cleanliness. But over in the cafĂ© area, which is next to the in-store Starbucks counter, where there are couches, chairs, tables, and televisions, the light comes from the windows and actual light bulbs. Over here, the music isn’t audible because the televisions (which are always set on CNN Headline News) provide the background noise instead. This is also the only area where the walls, instead of being white, sort of looks like mahogany.

The only other place in the store where the music is tough to hear is in the area where you’d find baby items, i.e. diapers, baby food, toys, etc. This makes perfect sense because you don’t typically associate toddlers with loud noises. It’s set up intentionally because in the next aisle, which is the health food section, the music from the overhead speakers can be heard.

As mentioned before, the music heard was John Mayer or Counting Crows and these artists are picked because of their catchiness and non-offensive message. A majority of the songs deal with love but nothing obviously lewd (I say “obviously” because they do play a song or two that it’s not possible to hear the sex factor unless you read between the lines, like “Brown Sugar” by The Rolling Stones) and almost all are artists that people can name. The store isn’t looking to impress you with their knowledge of Howlin’ Wolf but instead, they’d rather play The Beatles or Jackson Browne or Jack Johnson because people immediately recognize these artists. In the case of The Beatles, the store won’t play “Let’s Do It In the Road,” but rather “I Saw Her Standing There” which has the familiar “Wooooo” chorus. While working at Store B, I’ve noticed many people singing to the songs the same way they would as if they were in their own car. Once the holiday season comes around in early to mid-December, the store changes its play list over to nothing but Christmas music. This fits along with the theme of the store changing to remind the shopper of Christmas and New Year’s.

Every artist listed also happens to be white which has a direct correlation with the average shopper at Store B. It’s mostly white, female who are in their mid-30s. Obviously this isn’t true with all customers but the ones that most often enter into the store fit those specifics. If you’re looking to appeal to that group, it would not make sense to design the supermarket to have a “ghetto” feel or play hip hop music. Instead, you give it the impression of homeliness and play music that is most often associated with your potential customers.

The simple things—music, lighting, schematics—in any store, whether it is a supermarket or toy store, matter greatly to the shoppers within it. The funny thing (and intended too) is that for this to be accomplished, most of the time the person doesn’t even know.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Take the Quiz

Sometime last week, released their Almost-Impossible Rock & Roll Quiz. It spans from the 60s until present time, so to do well, you must have a lot of knowledge of over 40 years of music. Some of the answers are rather easy (the one about the Mothers of Invention album cover, for instance) but some are, well, Near-Impossible.

For what it's worth, I scored a 36 out of 52. Not great, but not terrible either.


Five Best...Facts I Learned from the Quiz

#5. Buddy Holly falls between "Thalidomide" and "Ben-Hur" in Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire."

#4. "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder was originally written for Jeff Beck.

#3. Ex-NFL coach Jimmy Johnson gave the nickname "Beat Weeds" to fellow high school classmate Janis Joplin

#2. Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" was inadvertently inspired by Young Frankenstein.

#1. On the Monkees' 1969 hit, "Tear Drop City," Neil Young plays the guitar solo.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Odd Couple

"On November 13, Felix Unger was asked to remove himself from his place of residence. That request came from his wife. Deep down, he knew she was right, but he also knew that someday, he would return to her. With nowhere else to go, he appeared at the home of his childhood friend, Oscar Madison. Sometime earlier, Madison's wife had thrown him out, requesting that he never return. Can two divorced men share an apartment without driving each other crazy?"

Sound familiar? I hope so. But if not, it's the opening credits to The Odd Couple, and today is the date referenced. Other interesting things that happened on November 13 include: The World Wide Web being introduced (1990), Saint Augustine of Hippo, Joe "Fat Tony" Mantegna and Robert Louis Stevenson being born, and Ol' Dirty Bastard passing away.

What a day!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Five Best...Characters in Willie Dixon's "Wang Dang Doodle"

#5. Fast Talking Fanny

#4. Automatic Slim

#3. Kudu-Crawlin' Red

#2. Butcher Knife Totin' Annie

#1. Abyssinian Ned

What is a "wang dang doodle," you may be asking yourself? Well, according to Urban Dictionary, it's either:

A) a good old fashioned Saturday night filled with drunken revelry, which may include but is not limited to fighting, dancing, singing and the like.

B) a penis.

It's up to you, the reader, to decide.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Rock 'N' Roll Revisited, Vol. III

As appears in Tuesday's issue of The New School's newspaper, the New School Free Press. This article was co-written with Kyle McGovern.

There are some great debut albums out there—Marquee Moon, The Clash, My Aim is True—but none as good as The Velvet Underground and Nico.

The first song, "Sunday Morning," was the last song recorded for the album, which gives it a sort of hindsight. Lead vocalist Lou Reed sighs more than he sings: "Early dawning, Sunday morning/ It's just the wasted years, so close behind." "Sunday" captures the strange partnership between feeling elated about what you did last night and fearing the consequences.

The Velvets never dressed anything up, and with "I'm Waiting for the Man" and "Venus in Furs," they're leaving everything in plain sight. "Twenty-six dollars in my hand /Up to Lexington, 1–2–5/ Feel sick and dirty, more dead than alive." The piano's percussive shuffle on "Waiting" lends to the sense of urgency and paranoia that can't help but be felt when waiting for your man.

One of the most impressive aspects of the album is the way the VU could go from scenes of grime and desperation in "Run, Run, Run," (allegedly written on the back of an envelope on the way to a gig) to hiding the seduction of "There She Goes Again" behind a hook that could have been written by the Beatles.

German singer/model Nico, forced upon the VU by Andy Warhol, lends her ghostly voice for lead vocals on three songs, "Femme Fatale," "All Tomorrow's Parties" and "I'll Be Your Mirror." "Fatale" reveals itself to be a heartbreaking pop song; its cold delivery is just a ruse. The last twenty seconds, when Nico simply sings, "Oh oh, oh, oh," exposes her vulnerability.

It's not often that a song can scare the shit out of you, but try listening to "Heroin" in the dark, and not feel like John Cale's screeching viola is piercing your skin while Moe Tucker's drumming is following the heartbeat of someone on the title drug.

The final two songs, "The Black Angel's Death Song" and "European Son" end the album on a disappointing note. Both feel a bit thrown together, and rely more on making noise than being a good song—something that would be rectified on their second album, White Light/White Heat.

There's a saying that although only 100 people bought this album, those 100 went on to form their own band. This is the kind of influence that the VU had on music, and with albums like The Velvet Underground and Nico, it's easy to see why.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Early in the Morning, I'm Callin' YouTube, Vol. VII

The best thing I've found on YouTube this week is a clip of Billy Bragg singing both the Carpenters' "Superstar" AND Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright." He asks the crowd which of the two artists they'd rather hear, and they choose the Carpenters. After getting up to the chorus of "Superstar," Bragg gets sick of it and changes over to a fierce version of "Don't Think Twice." Gotta love Billy.

A few years back, Bragg and Wilco released Mermaid Avenue, Vol. 2 after the success of their first album together, the not-surprisingly titled Mermaid Avenue, of unrecorded Woody Guthrie songs. My favorite song of the bunch is "Airline in Heaven," a track that proves Guthrie was more than just the guy who wrote "This Land Is Your Land."

I wasn't a huge fan of Springsteen's Tom Joad period, but this live version of "Atlantic City," recorded in 1997 while touring for the album, is pretty impressive. Not as good as the original or the Band's version on Jericho, but those are both pretty much perfect.

While Harvest Moon is no Harvest, there are still some worthy-of-your-time tracks on it: "Natural Beauty," "Old King" and "From Hank to Hendrix," an improvement on Neil's other big namedropping song, "My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue.)"

This clip is of Howlin' Wolf singing "Dust My Broom." Enough said.

While watching this great clip of Tom Waits performing "Downtown Train" in Italy in 1986, it struck me as odd that he was holding a guitar. I guess I'm much more used to see him with a bullhorn or something that makes a loud clank noise in his hands, rather than an actual instrument. But then I realized how stupid it was to take note of that, and got back to listening to it.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Thinking 'Bout Jew

From December 17-27, I’ll be in Israel. I’m Jewish, and when I found out that I could go there for free if you’re a Jew between the ages of 18-26, I immediately jumped at the opportunity. It’s called a Birthright trip, and although I’m not a big Jew, in terms of observing the religion and its holidays, I know when to take advantage of a good thing.

Feel free to insert your own joke there.

In middle school and much of high school, I was slightly ashamed of being Jewish because I was one of about 3 or 4 students in the whole school who could be considered the “Chosen People.” But at that time, I didn’t feel so chosen, and would hear anti-Semitic remarks (although they were slightly innocent, if that makes sense) every so often.

But as I got older, I realized how stupid these people making fun of me where, and that I shouldn’t be ashamed. I actually became proud of my religion—although I would never go so far as to say that I’m a “good” Jew.

Originally, my main interest in going to Israel was to travel abroad for the first time in my life…for free. And while that’s still a huge reason, I’ve begun to realize how important this adventure, to borrow Nadia’s word, could be for me.

While I’m not expecting to become an uber-Jew (for lack of a better phrase, and I actually don’t want to become one either), I am hoping to get a better feel for my religion and of its Holy Land.

I’ll be visiting many of the country’s holy sites, while also observing the Shabbat—something that I’ve never really done before, outside of one summer at Jew Camp at the Jewish Community Center.

Sachlav, the group I’m going with, has planned trips through Jerusalem, Tsfat, Tel Chai, Tel Aviv and Eilat, among others, while also visiting the Wailing Wall, Red Sea and the Dead Sea, hiking Mt. Tsfachot and the Arbel and partaking in a disco cruise (!) on the Kinneret.

Another highlight is going to be traveling with an Israeli soldier. I’m looking forward to this because I’m planning to write about my trip for this blog, the New School’s newspaper and possibly even the Brooklyn Rail if I gather enough courage to write for them, and interviewing a soldier would make a great story.

But it’s not all about getting a story; it’s more about being away for 10 days and learning more about a culture that I should know more about already. And until December 17 comes, I’ll be counting down the days.

Until then, I can take pride in my heritage looking at all the Jewish musicians out there. Not all of them are great (as you’ll soon see), many have changed their names to something less-Jewy and even more are only, like myself, half-Jewish (to quote Groucho Marx, “Being only half-Jewish, I promise to get into the swimming pool only up to my waist”), but we’ve got one thing in common: we’re not Catholic.

Robert Zimmerman (Bob Dylan)

Lewis Allen Reed (Lou Reed)

Robbie Robertson

Susanna Hoffs (The Bangles)

Steven Page (Barenaked Ladies)

Michael Diamond, Adam Yauch, Adam Horovitz (Beastie Boys)

Beck Hansen (Beck)

Michael Bloomfield (Paul Butterfield Blues Band)

Mark Feld (Marc Bolan, T. Rex)

Michael Bolotin (Michael Bolton)

Michael Jones (Mick Jones of The Clash)

Leonard Cohen

Clive Davis

Samuel Davis Jr. (Sammy Davis Jr.)

Neil Diamond

Brian Epstein

Ellen Naomi Cohen (Mama Cass Elliot)

Art Garfunkel (Simon & Garfunkel)

Mickey Hart (The Grateful Dead)

Richard Meyers (Richard Hell)

Janis Eddy Fink (Janis Ian)

William Martin Joel (Billy Joel)

Lenny Kaye (Patti Smith Group)

Chaim Witz (Gene Simmons of Kiss)

Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits)

Alan Peter Kuperschmidt (Al Kooper)

Barry Alan Pincus (Barry Manilow)

Sylvain Mizrahi (Sylvain Sylvain of New York Dolls)

Randall Stuart Newman (Randy Newman)

Philip Ochs (Phil Ochs)

Stan Lynch, Howie Epstein (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers)

Jon Fishman, Mike Gordon (Phish)

Jeffrey Hymen (Joey Ramone)

Jonathan Richman (Modern Lovers)

David Lee Roth (of Van Halen)

Rick Rubin

Paul Simon

Saul Hudson (Slash, of Guns ‘N’ Roses)

Carrie Brownstein (Sleater-Kinney)

David Daniel Snider (Dee Snider of Twisted Sister)

Donald Fagen (Steely Dan)

Herbert Khaury (Tiny Tim)

Max Weinberg

Ira Kaplan (Yo La Tengo)

Warren Zevon

Waiting To Be Found

The way people get to Five Best is quite interesting. I added Google Analytics to my blog in order to track how many people visit daily, what country they’re from, how they get to my site (majority through Google) and also the keywords put in that eventually lead to FB.

Here are some of the better ones:

Five Best…Top Keywords That Lead People to Five Best (numerically)

#5. Goodbye Songs

#4. Cha cha Josh Kurp

#3. Best Goodbye Songs

#2. Songs about Masturbation

#1. Songs about Cleveland

And here are some of the funniest searches:

“Weird Pick-Up Lines”
“Best Songs for Sex”
“Best Burning Songs”
“David Bowie Looks”
“Best Masturbation”
“Best Ugly People”
“Cletus Homer Let’s Stop All the Fussin’ and the Feudin’”
“Baby, I’m Not From Havana”
“Guilty Pleasure Neil Diamond Dry Your Eyes”
“Space Mother Fucker Lyrics”
“Stupid Babies Need the Most Attention”
“Bands I Hate”
“Concert + Found Cum Stains”
“Ginny Weasley Whore”
“Great Songs to Live By”
“Ken Kurp”
“Rufus T Firefly and Ziggy Stardust”
“The Osmonds Crazy Horses Blogspot”
“Top 100 Things to Ask a Girl on a Date ‘Ever Milk a Cow’”
“Wes Anderson Saul Bellow”

And there’s at least 70 searches with Dylan’s name in there somehow

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Five Worst...Bands/Artists I Used to Listen to

(Before I begin, I apologize for the picture that was posted along with my entry on Cosmo’s Factory. I had taken a picture of the album cover from some website, and when they found out about it, they instead put a picture of a woman with poop on her face in its place. I guess that second picture is what inspired this posting…)

I don’t mind my having listened to matchbox twenty, Counting Crows, Dave Matthews Band and John Mayer, and I’m not ashamed of it. It doesn’t have the same quality of the Stones, Kinks or Howlin’ Wolf, but it sounded great to me during high school, and still occasionally does now.

Every so often, I’ll put DMB or Mayer on in the car while I’m driving (which I did during my last visit back home with my friend, Nadia), and it’ll be the perfect choice. Other times, I’ll listen to “Tripping Billies,” and it just sounds terrible.

(The band that escapes this sometimes good/sometimes bad problem is the Counting Crows. I still play them regularly, and songs like “Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby” and “Round Here” are actually great tracks.)

Having listed all those bands and artists as favorites at some point doesn’t phase me, but some of the other junk I listened to during that time does:

Five Worst…Bands/Artists I Used to Listen to

#5. Backstreet Boys/Britney Spears/NSYNC

Although they might actually be worse than my other selections, I put this trio at #5 because I still sometimes occasionally listen to them. Not on my iPod (although I am a proud owner of No Strings Attached), but rather at parties or with friends. And I know each and every lyric to each and every hit. Oh, and for what it’s worth, Britney’s best song is “Lucky.”

But that doesn’t mean I think they’re good; in fact, I know they suck. People like Dylan or Louis Armstrong or Captain Beefheart force you to think and pay attention while listening to them, and groups like BSB don’t want you to think. If you did, you’d realize how terrible they actually are.

#4. Dashboard Confessional

Another tricky one to explain because although they (well, he because the band is really only one guy, Chris Carrabba) stink, I still occasionally listen to them while I’m bored on YouTube or when I’m with my friend, Kayley. Dashboard is an example of a band that I can remember the first time listening to them (sad, I know) and that terrifies me. Can’t remember my first real exposure to Muddy Waters or John Coltrane, but I can remember watching MTV and “Screaming Infidelities” came on.

#3. Blink 182

A memory of mine: My Mom and I were at the mall, and she said I could get one album from Best Buy because she was getting one too. Our choices? She picked out a two-disc Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers anthology, while I instead went with Blink’s classic live album, The Mark, Tom and Travis Show. Of those two albums, guess which one I still listen to today…

#2. Limp Bizkit

Do I even have to bother?

#1. Nickelback

It isn’t that I owned an album of the worst current band out there, but I did (and still do) know the songs. Whether it was hearing “How You Remind Me” on my friend Kyle’s portable CD player while walking to another friend’s house or “Too Bad” or that horrendous song “Hero” from the Spiderman soundtrack, this band epically sucks. But try telling that to my roommate, who seems to only love generic rock songs, like their more-current hit “Rock Star” or Weezer’s worst song ever, “Beverly Hills.”

I’m ashamed of even knowing a single lyric from Nickelback, and all the good music in the world couldn’t make up for it.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Five Best...Songs from Cosmo's Factory

The fifth album by CCR in less than two years, I think it's there best. Nearly every song on the album is stellar, and really goes to show how great of a lyricist, guitar player and vocalist (not to mention underrated) John Fogerty is.

#5. "Lookin' Out My Back Door"

Forward troubles Illinois,
Lock the front door, oh boy!
Look at all the happy creatures dancing on the lawn.
Bother me tomorrow, today, I'll buy no sorrows.
Doo doo doo, lookin' out my back door

#4. "Who'll Stop the Rain"

I went down Virginia seekin' shelter from the storm
Caught up in the fable I watched the tower grow
Five year plans and new deals wrapped in golden chains
And I wonder, still I wonder who'll stop the rain

#3. "Run Through the Jungle"

Thought I heard a rumblin'
Callin' to my name,
Two hundred million guns are loaded
Satan cries, "Take aim!"

#2. "I Heard It Through the Grapevine"

Heard it through the grapevine
Not much longer would you be mine
Oh I heard it through the grapevine
Oh I'm just about to lose my mind
Honey, honey yeah

(Everyone talks about Hendrix making Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" a better song, but I think CCR taking on Gaye's "Grapevine" is a better example of this--and I mean that as no discredit to Jimi.)

#1. "Long As I Can See the Light"

Guess I've got that old travelin' bone,
'Cause this feeling won't leave me alone.
But I won't, won't be losing my way, no, no
'Long as I can see the light.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Fifteen Worst...Album Covers of All-Time
















Early in the Morning, I'm Callin' YouTube, Vol. VI

It took me awhile to come around to Sufjan Stevens (who my friend, Kayley, saw last night at the Brooklyn Acamedy of Music in a concert about the Brooklyn Queens Expressway--it was supposed to be better than it sounds) but lately, I've been listening to him a lot. The reason? Songs like "Casimir Pulaski Day."

I have no interest in rap, except for "Ghost Ride the Whip"--although it's pretty much the worst rap song ever (especially with lines, "Ghost ride, ghost ride/Get out the way, let Casper drive/Ghost ride, go crazy/Who that drivin'? Patrick Swayze." For all those who don't know how to ghost ride, Urban Dictionary describes it as, "When you put your car on cruise control and climb out and dance on the roof." So lame, but a catchy song.

There's a plethora of great Who clips on YouTube, but this, a version of "A Quick One (While He's Away)" from '68's Rock 'N' Roll Circus, might just be the best thing out there.

Here's a pretty good version of "My Back Pages," with help from Roger McGuinn, Tom Petty, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, George Harrison and, of course, Bob Dylan, although Dylan does sound terrible in it.

I normally hate videos that consist only of pictures, instead of video, accompanied with music, but in the case of the Everly Brothers' "Take a Message to Mary," the song is so good, I don't really care.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Love Is So Simple, To Quote a Phrase

There are millions of songs about love about there, but only a small fraction of them are worth listening to. Even the best artists can fail when it comes to explaining love. For every “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy),” there’s a “Dancing in the Dark.” For every “Can’t Stand Losing You,” there’s a “Every Breath You Take.” For every “Eight Days a Week,” there’s a, well, maybe The Beatles didn’t quite fail at mastering the love song.

To write a great song about love, it’s crucial to have sentimental lyrics that don’t come across as melodramatic or, worse yet, schmaltzy. This is tough to do because, as mentioned before, there’s countless songs about the same subject. Can you imagine trying to write even 20,000 songs about, let’s say, only boxing or tanning? Even with a low number like that, it’s tough— let alone a number with at least six 0’s at the end of it.

Is it possible to write a song about being in love without acting be in love? I have no idea, but I’d have to guess that it’s a lot tougher. Trying to write a happy song when you’re depressed is like trying to write one about the sun when it’s been gray outside for a month. You can’t go on pure emotions, and you’re left relying to on memory.

There’s also different kinds of love. For instance, saying, “Well, she looked at me and I, I could see/That before too long I’d fall in love with her/She wouldn’t dance with another/When I saw her standin’ there” is miles away from

Down by the Riverside Motel,
It's ten below and falling
By a 99 cent store, she closed her eyes
And started swaying
But it's so hard to dance that way
When it's cold and there's no music
Well, your old hometown is so far away
But inside your head,
There's a record that’s playing a song called:
Hold on, hold on
You really got to hold on
Take my hand, I'm standing right here
And just hold on.

One is juvenile, one is grown-up and complicated—but both are love.

There’s a reason that when you Google “love,” there’s over 1 billion hits; it’s different for every person. When Neil Young sings that “Only love can break your heart,” Ian Curtis thinks that “love will tear us apart,” while Randy Newman swoops in to say that “you’re just a prisoner of the one you love.”

Myself, I’ve only been in love twice in my life (including now—there’s always a selfish for writing posts, isn’t there?), and the kind of love and the songs that I associate it with change. But one artist hasn’t, and I believe he can write about the different forms of love in ways that most only can dream about, or only feel but not able to properly explain.

In love:
My love she speaks like silence,
Without ideals or violence,
She doesn't have to say she's faithful,
Yet she's true, like ice, like fire.

Lost love:
Oh, it's shameful and it's sad,
I lost the only pal I had,
I just could not be what she wanted me to be.
I will turn my head up high
To that dark and rolling sky,
For tonight no light will shine on me.

Craving love:
If today was not an endless highway,
If tonight was not a crooked trail,
If tomorrow wasn't such a long time,
Then lonesome would mean nothing to you at all.
Yes, and only if my own true love was waitin',
Yes, and if I could hear her heart a-softly poundin',
Only if she was lyin' by me,
Then I'd lie in my bed once again.

Simple (but pure) love:
Close your eyes, close the door,
You don't have to worry any more.
I'll be your baby tonight.

Confused love:
Sometimes the silence can be like the thunder
Sometimes I wanna take to the road and plunder
Could you ever be true?
I think of you
And I wonder

I'm sick of love, I wish I'd never met you
I'm sick of love, I'm trying to forget you

Just don't know what to do
I'd give anything, to be with you

Abandoned love:
One more time at midnight, near the wall
Take off your heavy make-up and your shawl.
Won't you descend from the throne, from where you sit?
Let me feel your love one more time before I abandon it.

Those are all by Bob Dylan, a man not typically thought of in the same category as Elvis or Sinatra (although neither one of them wrote their material), but for one man to have mastered so many different kinds of love (and there’s plenty of other categories that I didn’t list), that’s impressive. And sort of sad too, when you think about it.

As for me, I would do anything for love, but I won’t…quote Meat Loaf.