Monday, August 4, 2008

Declaration Of In

Last night Melody and I meandered up the PCH and got some fish and chips at Neptune's Net. The sun was huge and orange, the bikers let their bikes glint and gleam while sipping beer and eating beer-battered fish, and everything affirmed that, in spite of our flaws as a country, some good decisions have been made.

1. 'D'Yer Mak'er' by Led Zeppelin from 'Houses Of The Holy'

I first succumbed to Led Zeppelin in my fifth year of college, a year I spent abroad in France. My friends and I had access to a small studio in Paris that we could crash in while having adventures in The City of Lights. Let me be start by saying that I never visited Jim Morrison's grave and that the only classic rock conversion I underwent was due to the fact that the studio only had one set of CD's...the newly remastered Led Zeppelin catalog.

The owner of the studio traveled a great deal and had brought back from South America a giant jug of homemade rum. In this rum the moonshiners had deposited various local fruits. By the time I imbibed from the potent brew the fruit was gray. This didn't stop me. I think today it would stop me, and that is why youth is so perfectly not wasted on the young.

2. 'Hey Foxymophandlemama, That's Me' by Pearl Jam from 'Vitalogy'

This song disturbed me greatly while it played and I didn't know who it was. Eddie Vedder doesn't sing on the track; it is a collage of spoken word by what is either a little child or an adult voice modified to sound like a child. Due to my ambivalence about Eddie Vedder's voice, you'd think this might up my enjoyment factor. But I just wanted it to be over. Thankfully it isn't too long. By the way, the title is completely non-sequitous which is a shortcut that many mainstream artists use when they want to seem more experimental than they actually are. Pearl Jam will always be closer to Stone Temple Pilots than Captain Beefheart and that would be fine except they don't seem to think so.

3. 'Nice New Outfit' by Fugazi from 'Steady Diet Of Nothing'

In Fugazi-land this album is not considered to be a high point. Much like Foo Fighter's 'The Colour And The Shape'. But I am in the minority. I think it is their finest moment. The first Iraq war was raging and naturally Fugazi commented.

This song took on a different meaning for me last year when I performed it as part of a tribute to Fugazi. The evening was organized by a friend, a great actress/singer. She and I geeked out over Fugazi whenever we got the chance and she is really the only other fanatic that I know personally. I know they're out there but I don't know any of them personally.

My cousin Timothy and I did a wacky hip-hop version of this song which we performed. In the midst of all the hardcore sturm und drang volume our funky karaoke was, thankfully, highly appreciated. It marked our debut in live performance.

4. 'Do That Stuff' by Parliament from 'Parliament's Greatest Hits'

I know this must be a funky track but I got pretty into reading 'Bambi Vs. Godzilla', David Mamet's dissection of the film industry. But, listen, if you need me to tell you about Parliament you just aren't quite a good American yet.

Quick sideline. What the hell are they putting in the drinking water up in Minneapolis, MN? Bob Dylan, Prince, George Clinton, Garrison Keillor, The Replacements, Husker Du, Soul Asylum. Seriously. BOTTLE THAT SHIT AND SEND IT TO ME.

5. 'Red Light Fever' by Liz Phair from 'Liz Phair'

See 'Who Said Life Wasn't Phair?' from 2/25/08.

6. 'I Don't Wanna Grow Up' by Tom Waits from 'Bone Machine'

One of his best and that's saying a lot. It sounds like a 'Free To Be You And Me' song that has been dragged into a bar, force fed Pabst Blue Ribbon and pickled eggs, turned onto the joys of unfiltered Pall Malls, dropped onto a crosstown bus dressed in rags, and deposited back at elementary school with instructions to pretend none of it ever happened.

7. 'Tasted' by Brendan O'Malley from 'Rhode Island Red'

This song was actually co-written with my friend Danilo Torres who played guitar in The Mahoneys. I put words to a lick we'd played around with...he thought it should be called 'Tasted' so I wrote a song called 'Tasted'. This is months after the demise of that band, in the last summer I would spend in Rhode Island before moving to The Big Apple. I recorded some songs in the cabaret room at Theater-By-The-Sea for friends and family. They were very kind to come show their support.

All I remember from that summer is the heat and the feeling that my life was like the space in front of an air-conditioning duct that has been blocked. It ought to be cooler so you know something is wrong.

8. 'Whoa, Back Buck' by Leadbelly and The Golden Gate Jubilee from 'Alabama Bound'

Kurt Cobain introduced me to Leadbelly and I'll forever be grateful to that little asshole for that.

9. 'Last Exit' by Pearl Jam from 'Vitalogy'

See? The iPod knew it had fucked up. In revisiting the same album from Pearl Jam, it proves my point perfectly. This is a straightforward guitar cock-rock song. Pearl Jam chafes at the notion that it is as conventional as can be. But like PBJ and network television there is something comforting about the lowest common denominator. Don't fight it guys.

10. 'Mississippi' by Bob Dylan from 'Love & Theft'

When Bob Dylan says he stayed in Mississippi way too long you imagine centuries. Eons. By the end of the song you've spent that time there with him, wondering why you can't leave, what the hell is wrong with you, and why can't you find the gumption to pick your feet up.

11. 'My World Is Over' by Diane Dane from 'That Thing You Do!'

I love this movie.

12. 'Seen Your Video' by The Replacements from 'Let It Be'

Instrumental for the first half, the second half rails against MTV and phony rock and roll. Not their best song, not even the best song on the second side of this PERFECT album, but somehow this song could go into the time capsule and perfectly describe early '80's underground punk music. If you want mainstream go to Maine and find a stream.

13. 'Limp' by Fiona Apple from 'When The Pawn...'

Because one of the first things I ever heard about Fiona Apple was that she'd been raped at 12, I've never quite been able to acknowledge how sexy she is. In the spirit of the title of today's post, Fiona Apple is HOT. Triple hot. The lips, the hair, the skinny little on a stick and even the imposition of pure evil on her history can't tarnish it. Take that rapist. You failed.

14. 'Pinball Wizard' by The Who from 'My Generation - The Very Best Of The Who'

I just heard this song the other day and commented on how stupid I think it is. 'Tommy' in general I think is pretty over-rated. Give me 'Who's Next' over 'Tommy' EVERY day of EVERY week. If I were deaf dumb and blind I'd be offended. I'm not and I am.

15. 'I'm Ready To Go Home' by The Louvin Brothers from 'Satan Is Real'

Preach on brothers. The Pearly Gates will welcome you. Your belief is complete and therefore self-reflexive.

16. 'The Sprawl' by Sonic Youth from 'Daydream Nation'

Who knew the Converse and Fruit of the Loom generation had a 'Sgt. Pepper's' waiting for them? I didn't know I had a generation to be articulated until I heard this album. In one long dissonant swoop Sonic Youth killed my childhood and I reveled in the carnage.

And so we the people come to the end of our Declaration of In. See youz tomorruh.

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