Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Bored Room

Yesterday my iPod bored me to such an extent that I did not write a post. It repeated several songs it recently played, the songs it chose were not sufficiently interesting to spark my discourse, and David Mamet's 'Bambi Vs. Godzilla' overrode any musical connection those songs could attempt.

Today wasn't much better but until I figure out a new way to approach this space I am going to give it a go.

1. 'I Love A Piano' by Tony Bennett from 'Unplugged'

A promising start as Tony sings the shit out of this standard. He lives right near Columbus Circle and I almost knocked him over one day while I was working at The Hub writing my Urban Legends column as Legs Urbano. What an odd time. The internet boom in action. Corporations throwing money around like it was free bagels. Weirdos on deadline almost bumping into American legends on the streets.

2. 'Smile' by Michael Jackson from 'HIStory (Disc 2)'

Oh man. The packaging for this greatest hits schmaltztravaganza is almost too bizarre to describe. It comes across as if it is Exhibit A in some movie courtroom drama in which Michael defends himself with a speech so impassioned that world peace spontaneously occurs while his accusers rip up the incriminating evidence they have of him. Remember in 'Star Wars' when the Death Star explodes and Leia, Han, and Luke celebrate back at the Rebel base and how that should have been the end? And then there is a wordless ceremony in which Leia puts medals on Han and Luke? And Harrison Ford can barely contain his disdain? That's this whole thing in a nutshell.

3. 'Leaving' by Gregory isaacs from 'Trojan Dub Box Set (Disc 3)'

My cousin Liam recommended this compilation of dub music. I pass the recommendation on. Not being a big reggae fan, I am surprised at my reaction to dub music, mostly because these tracks are mainly instrumental. That allows them to be more surreal to me and they hit harder.

4. 'Gatorville & Points East' by John Cale from 'Walking On Locusts'

If you want to fall asleep on public transportation I suggest you listen to John Cale.

5. 'Operaman' by Adam Sandler from 'The Concert For New York City (Disc 1)'

Leave it to Sandler to rouse me from my Cale-induced coma and bring me to tears. The rest of this concert can inspire me to cynicism and a kneejerk anti-jingoism but Sandler makes me proud to be an American and proud to declare that my homeland was brutally attacked by the worst kind of scoundrel.

6. 'Cool' by Gwen Stefani from 'Love, Angel, Music, Baby'

If I were Gavin Rossdale I'd be like, 'Hey, can you stop writing songs about the bass player already?'

7. 'Lola' by The Kinks from 'The Ultimate Collection (Disc 1)'

I never liked The Kinks. I was wrong. They seem to be the most unfamous famous band of all time. Strange strange music.

8. 'I Just Can't Stop Loving You' by Michael Jackson from 'HIStory (Disc 1)'

I don't even want to know who he's talking about.

9. 'Monsters In The Parasol' by Queens Of The Stone Age from 'Rated R'

If you are unfamiliar with this album you are really missing out. Any band that can take something as patently absurd as the combination of 'monster' and 'parasol' and turn it into a great rock song is to be commended and encouraged. Also I sort of want to be Josh Homme.

10. 'Speedo' by The Cadillacs from 'Goodfellas (Soundtrack)'

This vocal figure ('Now you all can call me Speedo, etc.') just might be the combination of notes that I have hummed to myself most often out of all the songs ever written. I can't say it is my favorite or anything, just that I quite regularly find myself in the process of recreating it.

11. 'Stop Talking' by The Walkmen from 'Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone'

I almost loved this band when this album came out. Today I am more interested in what David Mamet has to say about the Ashkenazy Jew and the fact that the titans who created Hollywood all originate from a 200 mile radius in Poland.

12. 'Blood' by El-P from 'Fantastic Damage'

The antithesis of gangsta rap. This is not pleasant music. It is disconcerting to listen to, frightening to contemplate, and hard to digest. Funky as hell, as in funky as the place where bad people go to suffer forever.

13. 'Only The Strong' by Midnight Oil from '10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1'

People forget about Midnight Oil. I do too and then my iPod reminds me not to. Love this song. Love this band.

14. 'Old Brown Shoe' by The Beatles 'Past Masters Volume 2'

John, Paul, George, Ringo. Bingo.

15. 'Senior Service' by Elvis Costello & The Attractions from 'Armed Forces'

Compact pop absurdity.

16. 'Who Are Parents' by The Shaggs from 'Philosophy Of The World'

Google 'The Shaggs'. I can't explain it in any meaningful way.

17. 'Bad Show' by Soul Side from 'Soon-Come-Happy'

DC hardcore interesting because members of this band went on to form Rites of Spring and Fugazi. Not too interesting on its own.

18. 'Willing And Able' by Prince & The New Power Generation from 'Diamonds And Pearls'

Prince hit some kind of high point with this album. When I think of this album I think 'relaxation'. It might be the only time in his entire body of work that he is relaxed.

19. 'This Protector' by The White Stripes from 'White Blood Cells'

Gonna have to work harder than that, Jack.

20. 'House Where Nobody Lives' by Tom Waits from 'Mule Variations'

How sad. An empty house. I might cry. Or press fast forward.

21. 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' by Nirvana from 'From The Muddy Bands Of The Wishkah'

Nirvana live and twice as fast as the song you've heard a gazillion times on the radio. I can't help but layer the detachment Cobain must have felt deep within, the disdain he directed towards himself for winning a popularity contest. It drains the song of its energy and leaves it sounding like the kid who is still screaming and crying even though his mother has caved in and given him the candy he thought he wanted.

I've had it with this format. I may be back here or it may be time to close up shop and move on to something else. We shall see. We shall see.

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