Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Jzzs, Debbie, and Jofus

My niece is fascinated with the Nativity. For some reason she refers to Mary as Debbie. She calls Joseph Jofus, as if he is some sort of Middle Eastern redneck, and Jesus gets all the vowels taken out of his name.

Melody's niece, when told it was Jesus' birthday, looked up at her mother and said, "Cupcakes?!?"

I have been left to my own devices for the past few days, as Cashel is off in the desert with his mom and uncle and Melody is still in North Carolina. This is not good for me. I have not fallen apart completely but give me time and I'll surely crack.

217. Damned Ladies - Rufus Wainwright from 'Rufus Wainwright'

This one is probably my least favorite song on the album which is sort of like saying it is the least favorite of my favorite Shakespeare plays. It's ALL SHAKESPEARE.

218. Shine - Dolly Parton from 'Little Sparrow'

Dolly takes a middling modern rock hit by Collective Soul and tricks it out in her usual fashion. This song did nothing for me in its original state and Dolly has breathed new life into it with her considerable lungs. Ahem.

219. If (Instrumental) - Wild Colonials from 'Home Movie Sound Kit (Disc 2)'

I am friends with Shark, the guitarist for this great Canadian/LA band. They were in the middle of trying to extricate themselves from a bad contract and Shark came up with the idea of releasing their songs as instrumental tracks to be used in movies. Their dense atmospheric melodies are perfect cinematic accompaniment. Moody and sensuous.

220. Scream - Michael Jackson from 'HIStory (Disc 2)'

What can you say about this guy? He didn't seem all that interested in doing a duet with his sister until he needed a comeback. Kind of says it all.

221. Airbag - Radiohead from 'OK Computer'

Trying to explain my appreciation for this album is like attempting to define the best part of oxygen. It is self-explanatory. I can still remember the shock of seeing the videos to these songs and realizing that Radiohead was, all of a sudden, the best and most important band in the world. That doesn't make them my favorite but it's fifteen years later and nobody has knocked them off the hill yet.

222. Freedom Road - The Divine Comedy from 'Absent Friends'

My sister Sheila insisted that I listen to this guy and in retrospect I can see why. I know hyperbole is a staple part of my writing but The Divine Comedy has got to be the single most underrated songwriter of the past thirty years. No one knows who this guy is and then you listen to his stuff and it is like entering a world where there was another Beatle. Who wound up being the best one.

223. Broken Face - Pixies from 'Surfer Rosa & Come On Pilgrim'

Replacements fans everywhere drool at the prospect of a reunion like the one the Pixies treated us to in 2004. They'd toiled away during their heyday and hit the amphitheaters for what was essentially a victory lap.

224. Skip To My Lou - Dan Zanes from 'Family Dance'

I was delighted when I discovered these albums for children and I would still recommend them to anyone with a little child. Just be prepared for the moment in the future when you want to grab Dan Zanes by his skinny little neck and shake him until his big stupid hair shakes on top of his annoying head.

225. Hold Me - Stevie Wonder from 'For Once In My Life/Uptight'

One of those songs you know you've heard a million times but never quite paid enough attention to. Joyous and beautiful singing and playing.

226. Dead And Lovely - Tom Waits from 'Real Gone'

When Tom Waits dispenses with all the overwrought grunting and bizarre instruments there is no one who can touch him. A haunting and disturbing elegy of loss.

227. Smooth Sailing - Ella Fitzgerald from 'The Very Best Of Ella (Disc 1)'

I liken my feelings about Ella Fitzgerald to my feelings about Al Pacino. Any criticism must be prefaced with the basic fact that, hey, it's AL PACINO. So he is annoying and over the top in 'Heat' and 'Scent Of A Woman', that doesn't erase 'Dog Day Afternoon', 'The Godfather Movies', or 'Donnie Brasco'. Same thing with Ella. When she starts to scat (the aspect of her work that everyone else seems to love the most) I immediately want to tear my hair out. And hers. But she's still ELLA.

228. Brainstorm - New Mischief from 'New Mischief EP'

Timothy Buzz and I captured lightning in a bottle.

229. Sea Anemone - Jets To Brazil from 'Orange Rhyming Dictionary'

They skirt the self-indulgent line perfectly in this song because even thought the narrator is supposedly contemplating suicide in a hotel room he still has enough energy to belt the shit out of this song.

230. Cheeze Surprize - Pimp Fu from 'Shocker'

To his fans, Pimp Fu had always been the crazy guy, caught in the corner of his own mind, raving and raging against himself, to himself, about himself. So when this album came out it was obvious that this was not THAT Pimp Fu. The explicit content makes 2Live Crew look like storytelling time for kids at the local library and strippers blushed at the brazen come-ons peppered throughout this bawdy hilarious album.

231. Rid Of Me - PJ Harvey from 'Rid Of Me'

Hey PJ, take a nap and let the Pimp Fu have a crack at ya. He'll cheer you up.

232. Big Time Woman - Leon Redbone from 'On The Track'

My parents were big fans of Leon Redbone. They let Sheila and I stay up late to see him on Saturday Night Live. We couldn't stop laughing at the deep bassoon sound coming out of that little white-suited weirdo. We probably annoyed our parents by our lack of appreciation but he sure stuck in my head. To the point where this is now one of my favorite albums of all time.

233. In The Darkest Place - Elvis Costello With Burt Bacharach from 'Painted From Memory'

At the time I thought Elvis was just being impossibly pompous and pretentious. But in keeping with the re-flowering of my love affair with Mr. Costello, I hear something very different now. Ultra classy sophisticated pop music.

234. Fantino - Sebastian Tellier from 'Lost In Translation'

Fantino? Fantastic!

See ya bitches.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Short Shuffle

I have been driving the past couple of days so no long shuffle stretches on the bus, only gym workout mixes. This is what I listened to last night strapped to various machines and sweating like a nutball.

207. Sabre Dance from "Gayane" - Aram Khatchaturyan and the Houston Symphony Orchestra from 'Romantic Melodies For Orchestra: 20th Century"

Oh yeah, nothing gets me psyched up to pump some iron quite like the Sabre Dance. It's almost like actual steroids. Thanks, iPod for hanging me out to dry here. For about a year Cashel would fall asleep to the 'Classical Genre' on my iTunes. He loves this song.

208. N.S.U. - Cream from 'The Very Best Of Cream'

Boy, I'd hate to hear 'The Very Worst Of Cream' because the very best sucks pretty hard.

209. The Kill - Fugazi from 'The Argument'

It is hard for me to believe that it has been ten years since Fugazi put out this album, what appears to have been their last. It is also their best. Like everything else they did it was under the radar. They don't care about radar. They are radar.

I have this fond wish that some day they will reunite and play together again. I feel very lucky to have seen them at their prime, which is another way of saying 'I saw them at any time during their career' because they were never less than transcendent.

210. Take A Look - Liz Phair from 'Liz Phair'

I feel very protective of Liz Phair. Every time I hear her I get my hackles up in defense, not from critics but from fans who simply can't let go of 'Exile In Guyville'. In my opinion she has improved with every release. That is not a knock on 'Guyville' but she has challenged herself time and time again. Fans who want artists to repeat themselves are not true fans. They are sheep. Sheep must be shorn.

211. Surfin' Cow - The Dead Milkmen from 'Bucky Fellini'

We don't mean a word we say, aren't we funny? Everything is lame, so are we but at least we don't care. Hahahahaha, aren't we hilarious?

This album came out around the same time as Bon Jovi's 'Livin' On A Prayer' and you know what? 'Livin' On A Prayer' is BETTER MUSIC even though millions of idiots like it more.

212. Optimistic - Radiohead from 'Kid A'

Everyone else is playing for second place.

213. Latest Disgrace - Fugazi from 'Red Medicine'

When all my hardcore die-hards heard that Ian Mackaye had a new band everyone was conflicted. Minor Threat are the Led Zeppelin of hardcore. They simply outplayed everyone else. By miles and miles. I didn't know it but what I feared the most was that his next band would sound sort of the same but not be as good.

Imagine our surprise when Fugazi behaved as if Minor Threat had never existed. How do you ensure that you don't sound stale? Simply invent a new genre of music again.

Good lord they're good. I don't want the music business to be fair. It is supposed to be cutthroat. I don't begrudge the mainstream superstars their conquests. I simply feel bad for the legions of people who will never fully grasp what they never knew they missed.

214. Action And Drama - bis from 'Social Dancing'

Okay, that was great, guys, now for take two could we have a little more action and a little more drama? Actually, how about a LOT more action and a LOT more drama? You know what, ANY action and ANY drama would suffice.

215. A Tender Lie - Dolly Parton from 'Little Sparrow'

I am not a boob man. So I don't care about those famous exaggerations that everyone seems to focus on when it comes to Dolly Parton. What if everyone only wanted to talk about Bob Dylan's piercing eyes? Granted, Dolly has not shied away from utilizing all of her assets to her advantage but her LUNGS are more astonishing than the expanse of flesh that cover them. Titty Mama can sing!

216. Sexy Sadie - The Beatles from 'White Album (Disc 2)'

If this song came from any other band it would be their finest moment. For The Beatles? It's track 5 on side 3 of a double album. Douchebags.

The holiday season is upon us. Wishing you and yours the best.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Rain Again???

This might be the wettest stretch of weather I've experienced since moving to Los Angeles in 2003. I managed to leave my umbrella at Coffee Bean as I rushed out to jump on a bus but then an angry passenger threatened the driver before we even started moving and he called the cops and kicked everyone off except the offender who was continuing to call him any number of names.

I went back inside and retrieved my umbrella and hopped on the next bus which was free of conflict. Plus the bus driver didn't make me pay again as he could see people streaming off the other bus as it morphed into a crime scene.

172. Posse In Effect - The Beastie Boys from 'Licensed To Ill'

There isn't much music made that has the sole purpose of being fun. The Beastie Boys are masters at this, making song after song that have no hint of anger, bitterness, pain, weakness, or anything resembling a negative emotion. Don't mistake this for shallowness. Willfully excluding darkness is uplifting. Plus it's got a good beat and is fun to dance to.

173. Exit Only - Fugazi from 'Steady Diet Of Nothing'

The opposite of the above, Fugazi mine very different ore. They insist on a rigorous analysis of this sorry old world we live in and then they mirror it back at us in torrents of precise abandon. Exciting, yes. Intense, yes. Fun? Not really.

174. Shadow Of A Doubt (Complex Kid) - Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers from 'Damn The Torpedoes'

Tom Petty has been famous for so long that he gets taken for granted. To my mind he leaves Bruce Springsteen in the dust as the true chronicler of working class America in the latter half of the 20th century. Bruce THINKS he's doing this but what he's doing is something closer to mythology. Petty doesn't inject the wind on our faces with meaning, he just describes the dust in our eyes.

175. P.L.P. - The Mahoneys from 'Live From The 20th Century'

Perhaps the greatest band ever fronted by Brendan O'Malley in the 1990's in Rhode Island. Also the abbreviation avoids perhaps the most pretentious rock song title ever inflicted on man, 'Passed Lamenting's Past'. Yikes. Somehow it still rocks in spite of the horseshit.

176. Sweet Wine - Cream from 'The Very Best Of Cream'

Hey Cream, quit curdlin'!

177. Still Tippin' (It's A Man's World Remix) - Mike Jones from 'Hustle & Flow'

Mike JONES! I love this guy because all he has to do is repeat his name over and over again. "It's Mike JONES!" He manages to turn the most bland moniker ever worn by a rapper into some sort of rally point. I made my parents watch this movie and they loved it. If you haven't seen 'Hustle & Flow' DO IT.

178. Everybody Knows A Little Bit Of Something - King's X from 'Gretchen Goes To Nebraska'

Who can't use a little gay Christian heavy metal R&B? I personally can never get enough of it!

179. Why Can't A Man Stand Alone? - Elvis Costello from 'All This Useless Beauty'

The conceit of this album (and what Elvis album would be complete without a conceit) is that it gathers a bunch of songs that Elvis originally wrote for other people to record. Lately I'm finding myself drawn back into his catalog like a drunk shaking outside of a bar. It might not be good for me but I'm gonna do it anyway.

180. Stars Of Warburton - Midnight Oil from 'Blue Sky Mining'

Great song, great album, great band. I always find myself vaguely rejecting them the minute a song comes on and by the time it is thirty seconds in I have left judgment behind and I'm with them all the way. A strange unique success.

181. Middle Man - Living Colour from 'Vivid'

What I just wrote about Midnight Oil you can reverse for these guys. Optimism surges the minute that they run into my ears. There are great elements at play in every one of their songs. And then? It fizzles.

182. Dreamer In My Dreams - Wilco from 'Being There (Disc 2)'

This is how I like my Wilco. Loud, fast, and a little out of control. The more Brian Wilson/Pet Sounds Jeff Tweedy gets, the less I care. And I just realized that the title of this album is 'Being There'.

183. All You Need Is Love - The Beatles from '1'

Saying this is my least favorite Beatles song is like saying a certain batch of oxygen is my least favorite air. But there you have it. I have always internally rebelled against this song and its simplistic message. I find myself imagining long late night arguments between myself and John Lennon in which I ridicule this song by saying things like, "Really, John? Really? So the starving kid doesn't need food he only needs LOVE? REALLY?" To which John always shrugs his shoulders and says something like, "Did you start a band called The Beatles and change human history? I didn't think so." Which, while true, still pisses me off.

184. Wooooh, Din Din Da Doop Doop - Pimp Fu from 'First Press'

Timothy experimenting with strange boops and beeps and beats. Creepy and cool.

185. See My Friend - The Kinks from 'The Ultimate Collection (Disc 1)'

The more I listen the more I like. These guys are way underrated. Which, considering how highly rated they are, is almost preposterous.

186. I'll Wear It Proudly - The Costello Show from 'King Of America'

Okay, Elvis, I'll take you back. I will buy some new stuff of yours to love. I am sorry I've neglected you over the past decade in which you've recorded albums with opera singers, string quartets, marching bands, prison guards, goat herds, race cars, and newscasters. I'm back in, quit buggin' me.

187. Remember Me - Freedy Johnston from 'Can You Fly'

Freedy hadn't learned to sing yet. He overdoes everything, like a little kid pronouncing a difficult word for the first time. For some reason I don't have the album of his that I really love, probably because every time I hear 'Bad Reputation' I have to seek psychiatric help.

188. Professor Booty - The Beastie Boys from 'Check Your Head'

Like I said, fun.

189. Mr. Rabbit - Paul Westerberg from 'Stereo'

There is so much magic in this song you can almost see the hat it came out of.

190. Let's Do It - Joan Jett & Paul Westerberg from 'Tank Girl'

There is a history of collaboration between these two that is awesome. She recorded 'Androgynous' and he sang on a song of hers called 'Backlash'. They should be the Mick Jagger/Tina Turner of their generation but the music business failed them.

191. In The Evening - Dan Zanes from 'Family Dance'

Oh shut up. Cut your hair. Record an album for grown ups.

192. I Lost It - Lucinda Williams from 'Car Wheels On A Gravel Road'

Perfect album. SO perfect in fact that I have never bought anything else by her, even the album with the song about Paul Westerberg on it.

193. Getting In Tune - The Who from 'Who's Next'

Hearing this song so soon upon the heels of The Kinks makes me wish The Kinks would reunite to play the Super Bowl Halftime Show. Because The Who come in a distant second in this particular race.

194. Keep Fishin' - Weezer from 'Maladroit'


195. A Face In The Crowd - Tom Petty from 'Full Moon Fever'


196. Trad: Amazing Grace - Mark O'Connor from 'Heartland: An Appalachian Anthology'

Gorgeous. It makes me think of standing on the altar singing 'Amazing Grace' at the funeral of my uncle Jimmy. Who was a piece o' work as we like to say. But what O'Malley isn't?

197. Filipino Box Spring Hog - Tom Waits from 'Mule Variations'

Shocking, but the weirdness doesn't bother me on this one. I can smell the fat dripping into the fire as the pig is roasted on the spit.

198. Monday Morning - Pulp from 'Different Class'

To make a sports analogy, this album is like a perennial backup stepping in after an injury and winning the batting title. They will go back to being a back up but they had one perfect moment in the sun. Sort of makes you wonder why they can't do it every time, though.

199. Long Tall Sally - The Beatles from 'Past Masters - Volume One'

You can imagine these four guys ripping your heart out of your chest in a small club. If you took away all of the albums and were left with those four guys on a stage you still have the greatest band of all time.

200. Come Together - Michael Jackson from HIStory (Disc 2)'

Oh, Michael. This is sad. By covering this song you reveal all of your weaknesses. Your talent sounds small compared to the achievement inherent in the notes and words. Your delusion cannot hold against the onslaught of true genius and it is smashed to bits by the very song you dare to interpret.

201. Tacoland - The Dead Milkmen from Bucky Fellini


202. Sorted For E's & Wizz - Pulp from 'Different Class'

Terrifying and sad. The narrator recounts being at an outdoor music festival and being abandoned by his friends while tripping on various illicit drugs. A void of panic envelops him and he cannot grasp any meaning in anything. Is that all there is?

203. Investigative Reports - Genius/GZA from 'Liquid Swords'

Monstrously bizarre.

204. The Yet - Brendan O'Malley from 'White Walls'

Take a nap. Jesus. Whiner.

205. Stars Gone Out - Low from 'The Curtain Hits The Cast'

There is only one song on this album that I need to hear. In fact, only one song by these slow Mormons will ever be necessary to me and it is 'The Plan' which Melody and I once listened to for eight short hours straight.

206. Stardust - Rob Wasserman/Aaron Neville from 'Duets'

I know I'm supposed to love Aaron Neville but I kind of want him to cut all the bullshit and just sing. He's like a basketball player doing a fancy dunk when all he needs to do is lay it in. And while he twirls around and preens for us, time expires.

See ya tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Aaaaand Still Raining

The gray sky has almost transformed Los Angeles into a place where quiet introspection in nicely lit warm rooms is the only weapon we have against the weather. But tomorrow or the next day people will be out and about again and the little Eastern interlude will be all but forgotten.

152. He's Wearing My Bathrobe - Don Was from 'Backbeat (Music From The Original Motion Picture)'

I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Don Was for his work producing 'Suicaine Gratifaction', the great Paul Westerberg album. Westerberg hasn't worked with anyone since. However, a ten minute jazz noodle-fest is almost too much for me to take. I bought this album thinking it was the OTHER 'Backbeat' soundtrack which has a whole slew of indie/punk rockers imitating The Beatles in Hamburg as teenagers in strip clubs on meth. Which is awesome. This limp nonsense is supposed to evoke the world that Stu Sutcliffe left the band for, the heady intellectualism of jazz. But Coltrane Don Was ain't.

153. She - Green Day from 'Dookie'

This was a breakthrough song for these guys and I have never liked it a bit.

154. Sorry - Patty Larkin from 'Regrooving The Dream'

I don't remember hearing this song. While she's on I suppose she's fine, good voice, good guitar playing, good production, but I forget her and I vaguely resent her for trying to make me remember.

155. Your Time Is Gonna Come - Led Zeppelin from 'Led Zeppelin I'

And a giant stomps the countryside.

156. Ticket To Ride - The Beatles from '1'

But fails to crush this hardy bunch of travelers who roam from town to town charming the villagers with their harmonies and verve.

157. If You Wear That Velvet Dress - U2 from 'Pop'

True to form I like the one album that U2 fans have very little use for. It's all wrong and that's why I like it.

158. Cousin Sally Brown - Doc Watson from 'The Doc Watson Family'

A violin and then some serious strumming. Gorgeous.

159. Welcome To The Jungle - Guns N' Roses from 'Appetite For Destruction'

What can be said about this song? These guys came along at a time when anything that smacked of heavy metal was a total JOKE and they blew all that shit out of the water. Everyone credits Nirvana with banishing hair bands from the mainstream but Guns N' Roses struck the first blow.

160. Sadly Mistaken - Pimp Fu from 'Raw Fushi...t'

Timothy moved from Brooklyn and left a treasure trove of weirdness behind that I then digitized. Here he makes an answering machine message out of the Emperor from Star Wars...hilarious.

161. Wrecking Ball - Neil Young from 'Freedom'

Neil is at the top of his game here. I first got into this album in France when I took the CD out of the University of Orleans library.

162. Sold You An Alibi - Superdrag from 'Head Trip In Every Key'

Stumbling onto this band at Cat's Cradle with Melody is still one of the more joyous musical moments I've ever had. Spoon has shot to major fame but these guys are just as deserving. I hope the world catches on.

163. On Broadway - Neil Young from 'Freedom'


164. Super Bad - James Brown from '20 All Time Greatest Hits!'

Yes, James. Yes, you are super bad.

165. Blue Line Swinger - Yo La Tengo from 'Prisoners Of Love (Disc 2)'


166. All Shook Down - The Replacements from 'All Shook Down'

In hindsight and in context this song gets more heartbreaking with every listen.

167. Nothing Of The Kind - Jimmie Dale Gilmore from 'Spinning Around The Sun'

This album is like an oasis that rises up out of the desert, seems to be a mirage, and then is not. It is real.

168. Drive All Night - Bruce Springsteen from 'The River (Disc 2)'

If he says 'baby' or 'darlin' or one more time I'm gonna...okay, I'm not gonna do anything but I wish I could.

169. Lullabye - Ben Folds Five from 'The Unauthorized Biography Of Reinhold Messner'

I have yet to hear a song from Ben Folds that does not move me. Plus Melody used to serve him coffee in Chapel Hill and she said he was a nice guy.

170. So What! - Jane's Addiction from 'Kettle Whistle'

Perry Farrell strikes me as something of a bully. And if you are gonna be a bully you'd better back it up. And he doesn't really back it all the way up. So what indeed.

171. Black Man - Stevie Wonder from 'Songs In The Key Of Life (Disc 2)'

Not a great song. There are songs about race that are great songs. This is not one of them. Just because something is socially conscious doesn't make it great art.

While I was writing this blog a call came through to the office and a sad man threatened me and tried to scare me. I laughed at him. I don't think he liked that. The lawyer representing him is on vacation and something about his case had upset him. He is a small human being. Maybe he'll grow but I doubt it.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rainy Friday Written On A Saturday, Also Rainy

This might be a first. In all of my years of blogging I don't think I ever once have written on a weekend. I get to work, settle in, grab a coffee and some peanut butter pretzels and get down to typing.

But today Melody is off at a Guess Christmas party, Cashel is asleep in Santa Monica after an all night laser tag Boy Scout gathering, laundry is running and I already watched 'Afrosaumurai: Resurrection'.

Which I highly recommend. The series is amazing and this movie picks up where that left off. Fantastic.

These songs I listened to yesterday as I traipsed around Santa Monica in the rain filing legal papers at the Court House. A mis-communication meant that I had to walk over there twice. More songs to write about!

122. No Offense - Jack Logan from 'Mood Elevator'

He croons this song right down into the ground. A curlicue of a lament rolls out of a thick guitar amplifier and he tells the woman who has just broken his heart that he doesn't blame her at all. He's just surprised she stuck it out that long. A terribly sad beautiful song.

123. Jealousy - Iggy Pop from 'American Caesar'

Great for two minutes. It is six minutes long.

124. Ecstasty - PJ Harvey from 'Rid Of Me'

For a few seconds I couldn't place this song and I thought it was some deep Zeppelin track I was forgetting. That should give you an indication of how hard this song rocks and how good this album is. If she had kept mining these hills she'd be a legend by now.

125. My Friend Goo - Sonic Youth from 'Goo'

The sound on this album is killer, buffed and shined within an inch of its life. Longtime fines thought they were selling out or some such nonsense but song after song on this album jumps out and grabs you by the throat. And Kim Gordon is the all-time underrated female bombshell rock singer.

126. It's Maria's Heart - The Mahoneys from 'Live From The 20th Century'

I wrote this song for Maria when she was still married, before she'd left him to be with me, before we moved in together in Providence, before we broke up and I moved to New York, before we got back together and she moved down to be with me, before we got married, before we had Cashel, before we got divorced. So, yeah, kind of an important song in my repertoire. And one of my best.

127. The Ghost Of A Smile - The Pogues from 'Hell's Ditch'

128. Paul Rosenberg (Skit) - Eminem from 'The Eminem Show'

Eminem has guns.

129. Bottom Of The Barrel - Amos Lee from 'Amos Lee'

It is very hard to fall asleep while walking in the rain but Amos Lee just made it happen to me.

130. More News At 11 - Public Enemy from 'Apocalypse 91...The Enemy Strikes Black'

I'm sure as shit awake now. Flava goes off in this song, just one of many perfect tracks on this angry brutal album.

131. With A Child's Heart - Stevie Wonder from 'For Once In My Life/Uptight'

Meaning, "Give me that toy, it's MINE!" Or deliberately throwing food onto the ground in a fancy restaurant? What type of 'child heart' are you referring to, Stevie?

132. Parameters - Ani DiFranco from 'Knuckle Down'

Again, very complicated response to Ms. DiFranco, sometimes contradicting responses within a line. But this one makes me cringe from the beginning with the hackneyed overwrought phrases she forces over a sinuous groove.

133. Cecilia - Simon & Garfunkel from 'Simon & Garfunkel Greatest Hits'

I have always resented Garfunkel. Like, what do you do again? You sing real high just like every other curly haired jerk you used to see singing old folk songs in coffee houses. You just hit the lottery and partnered up with one of the greatest songwriters of all time. Ever hear of Wham, Mr. Garfunkel?

134. The Rain Song - Led Zeppelin from 'Houses Of The Holy'

This song is very appropriate today. Actually, playing this song on a sunny day has been known to cause thunderstorms it is that powerful.

135. Big Black Mariah - Tom Waits from 'Rain Dogs'

More weather appropriate material, this whole album sounds like tap shoes running down an alley in New Orleans in a downpour. Before he became tedious in his quest to reach an apotheosis of quirk, Tom Waits occasionally nailed you to the wall with a strange groove.

136. Driftin' - Eric Clapton from 'From The Cradle'

Eric Clapton, meet Amos Lee. Amos Lee, meet sngazzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

137. Roy Rogers - Elton John from 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road'

Everyone bemoans the state of modern music and how there are no superstars anymore but the truth is that if Elton John came around today he'd be lucky if he had 5,000 fans on Facebook. No corporate entity in the world could make a star out of this guy, especially when 'Roy Rogers' is the third single off the best album he ever made.

138. Miss Know It All - Scientist from 'Trojan Dub Box Set (Disc 1)'

Every time a song from this box set comes on I feel like I am sitting on a beach with a giant joint in my mouth and I don't have a care in the world.

139. Like Dylan In The Movies - Belle & Sebastian from 'If You're Feeling Sinister'

Undeniable. Easy to poke fun at they are so twee, but every single song is as tight as a drum.

140. New Killer Of America - Bomer-B from 'Out Of Charactor: Act 1, Id City'

Perhaps my creepiest recorded moment. A dirge hip hop track with a wheezy harmonica solo, a haunted keyboard, and lyrics that name-drop Michael Jackson, Cisqo, Comerica Park, San Francisco, Miller Beer, and Manifest Destiny. Supremely weird.

141. Someone To Watch Over Me - Etta James from 'Time After Time'

More like we need someone to watch over us. Sheesh, this lady could rule the world.

142. Shrunken Head - Jack Logan from 'Bulk (Disc 1)'

Second track from this refrigerator mechanic. Great great song.

143. Gone Fishin' - Louis Armstrong from 'All-Time Greatest Hits'

Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong sing about goin' fishin' together. Yeah, right.

144. So Nice (Summer Samba) - Bebel Gilberto from 'Tanto Tiempo'

Everything this woman records seems designed to make sure that our planet gets populated, if ya catch my drift.

145. Us And Them - Pink Floyd from 'Dark Side Of The Moon'

Sorry, Pink Floyd, I am in neither category. You guys are on your own.

146. All Right, Yeah - Low Light Supercharger from 'Umpg Presents Res Freq Recordings'

A sampler. This is a run-of-the-mill modern rock song.

147. Heading For Light - Traveling Wilburys from 'Traveling Wilburys, Vol. 1'

It is hard to imagine how this album came about. Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, Mark Knopfler and Jeff Lynne are all at a cookout. "Hey, know what we should do?" Et voila, instant classic. I bet Bruce Springsteen was mad he wasn't invited.

148. Give 'Em What They Want - DMX from 'Umpg: Current And Upcoming Singles...'

What the inside of Michael Vick's brain sounds like.

149. Never Is A Promise - Fiona Apple from 'Tidal'

Well, I wish you'd kept it, Fiona, because this is a piece of garbage. I can see these lyrics printed out in your diary with the name of whoever the guy is surrounded in hearts and crossed out, all right alongside a description of 7th period gym class. Juvenile in the worst way, the way that says, "I am the only one who has EVER felt any pain." Mothers all over the country roll their eyes upon hearing this song and can't wait for their 14 year old daughters to go to college.

150. L'ame Slave - Jacques Higelin from 'Boris Vian Et Ses Interpretes'

Oh, French people. You try, you really try hard and it is cute.

151. I Cry Alone - The Black Keys from 'thickfreakness'

Damn. I overlooked these fellas at first because they came out around the same time as The White Stripes (White, Black, duos, electric blues) and I lumped them together. Turns out I love The Black Keys and have tired of The White Stripes. These are classic songs, the sonic equivalent of souped up Mustangs on deserted roads.

And so a Saturday post is finally achieved. See ya Monday.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Migraines And Mineral Water

Migraines have plagued me for several years now. For a time I thought it must be some reaction to the West Coast but the more I thought about it the more I realize that I've been getting migraines just about my whole life.

When they start to creep up the back of my skull, the best I can do is take a couple of Excedrin Migraine pills and bolt back a gallon of mineral water. One for the head, the other for the stomach that starts to follow crazy orders from the deranged general who has taken over the control center of my brain.

My iPod is like that remedy only I take it to fend off the atmosphere of the bus. Recently a handsome guy who looked like a Brazilian soccer player yelled at a guy for breathing too loud and there is a certain female bus driver who honks the horn so indiscriminately and for reasons so impossible to discern that I've started to wonder if she is trying to contact some dead relative.
92. Westbound Sign - Green Day from 'Insomniac'

Oh I'll give ya a westbound sign. I see it every day I get on this big red motherfucker.

93. Better Version Of Me - Fiona Apple from 'Extraordinary Machine'

Speaking from my own history as a songwriter I can say that there are certain songs that so perfectly express a part of me that they seem to BE that part of me. I would venture to guess that this is a song like that for Fiona Apple, the final rendering of a lifelong attempt to name something.

94. No Quarter - Led Zeppelin from 'Houses Of The Holy'

Okay, for a while I couldn't place this song and when Robert Plant started singing it shocked me because I thought it was something that came out very recently. The fuzzy keyboard, the funky backbeat...it's as if I stumbled into Beck's diary. "God, if I could only record something as cool as 'No Quarter' maybe the Scientologists will let me go..."

95. Serious - Gwen Stefani from 'Love, Angel, Music, Baby'

I hate the rock band Bush so much that it has affected my view of Gwen Stefani that she married that hack. It'd be like Meryl Streep hooking up with Screech. But comparing her to Streep is too kind, more like Rachel McAdams or someone like that. The pool looks like it has a deep end until you realize it is a trick of the light.

96. Big Pimpin'/Papercut - Linkin Park & Jay-Z from 'Collision Course'

What an odd combo and yet it works like a charm. Linkin Park has a big sound and Jay-Z just hops on top and rides it like a surfer. The reverse isn't quite true, especially since Linkin Park's whiny woe-is-me lyrics just don't fit sick beats as well. Like, dude, maybe you should TRY boasting a bit if you're gonna collaborate with the greatest trash talker of all time? Instead of going on about how unfair this world is? Really? It's unfair that you're doing a song with Jay-Z? Fucking ingrates.

97. Eight Line Poem - David Bowie from 'Bowie Live At The Beeb (Disc 2)'

Um, I don't care how many lines it is if it doesn't have a melody that I can remember. God, he was annoying until he became awesome.

98. Ain't No Right - Jane's Addiction from 'Kettle Whistle'

My reaction to Jane's Addiction is always very complicated. I know I'm supposed to like them and part of me does, they certainly have a vast power. But Perry Farrell just puts me off. In a big way.

99. Up The Beach - Jane's Addiction from 'Kettle Whistle'

Wow. Thanks iPod. Kick me when I'm down. And also make me admit my hypocrisy because I got swept away by this song. The deeper the track the better when it comes to Jane's.

100. Ophelia - The Band from 'The Best Of The Band'

Robbie Robertson is the great lost guitar player. He should be mentioned in the same breath as Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Richard Thompson. But The Band was such a band that you weren't really supposed to notice that anyone in particular was doing anything IN particular. They were just The Band. I love the image of Robbie in Canada playing in a mean R&B outfit with a fellow on bass named Rick James. In the '60's. Holy shit that makes me smile.

101. Right Back Here In My Arms - Prince from 'Emancipation (Disc 1)'

Usually there are a couple of songs on every Prince album that make me cringe. And blush. And not because they are sexy. More like you caught some geek in the band room jerking off to a picture of himself in a dress. But the three disc 'Emancipation' has exactly zero weak spots. This is a killer song.

102. We Getz Down - Rampage from 'Heavy Turbulence - Music From Elektra'

This is a sampler. This is a rap song by a group from Brooklyn. I'm guessing that because they say they are from Brooklyn roughly 87 times in four and a half minutes.

103. Dig A Pony - The Beatles from 'Let It Be'

I didn't hear this song until I was a grown ass man. So pissed off about that.

104. John Hardy - Leadbelly from 'Good Night Irene'

This seems to be the genesis for 'House Of The Rising Sun'. Leadbelly sounds like he's singing from inside a volcano. And the volcano is scared.

105. Summers Torture - Bull Cancer from '...Meets The Brown Recluse of Hwy. 54'

Remember what I said about the Fiona Apple song? This is one of those songs for me, by me. I wrote it in Santa Fe in a fever of longing and despair.

106. Seven Bridges Road - Dolly Parton from 'Little Sparrow'

Hey, Taylor Swift, get a load of this. Just know that if Kanye West had ever interrupted Dolly, she'd have thrown him into a headlock and kicked him in the balls. So quit yer bitchin'.

107. Mess - Ben Folds Five from 'The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner'

Guy doesn't write a bad song. Period.

108. The Toys Go Winding Down - Primus from 'Frizzle Fry'

Soft spot for these guys but they can be tedious.

109. Roast Fish & Cornbread - Lee "Scratch" Perry from 'Roast Fish Collie Weed & Corn Bread'

"Scratch" must have a publicist working because I have recently read two profiles of him, one in Rolling Stone and one in the LA Weekly. He is certainly a fascinating figure and someone who literally towers over dub and reggae music having virtually invented both. Um, and then he also produced The Clash and he lives in a mansion in Switzerland and saves all his urine. So there's that.

110. Pay To Play (Demo) - Nirvana from 'With The Lights Out (Disc 2)'

I always look at demo tracks as little glimpses into the private heart of whatever artist recorded them. And even in his most sheltered moments Kurt Cobain was destined for mass appeal. Somehow he recoiled at that, longed to be an obscure but highly regarded success like Sonic Youth. But he was more The Beatles than Leonard Cohen and you can hear it in the things he recorded that he never intended anyone to hear.

111. Through It All - Andre Williams from 'Silky'

The Black Godfather.

112. Somebody To Love - Queen from 'Greatest Hits'

What heaven sounds like.

113. St. Jimmy - Green Day from 'American Idiot'

I am still surprised that Green Day managed to leave their snot-nosed past behind them and did so by recording an album that is now sung on Broadway. Perhaps the most unlikely story in rock ever.

114. Things Are What You Make Of Them - Bishop Allen from 'Marlboro: The 2nd Sessions'

This is a sampler I must have found or bought and I can't remember the song.

115. That's The Way - Tom Waits from 'The Black Rider'

At least it is only a minute eight seconds.

116. How To Disappear Completely - Radiohead from 'Kid A'

I always felt like Pink Floyd was a fraud. When it came to Pink Floyd I was definitely a Jew. Well, the Messiah is here.

117. Throw Your Hatred Down - Neil Young from 'Mirrorball'

Neil with Pearl Jam. Boring.

118. Blew - Nirvana from 'Bleach'

There is a giant hole on this album where you can hear Dave Grohl just shaking his head and saying, "Wait til you guys get a load of me."

119. Love Ain't For Keeping - The Who from 'Who's Next'

It's not? Why not?

120. Rising Sign - Mike Doughty from 'Skittish'

Every song a diamond but you feel the years it waited, you sense the lump of coal regretting all those years down in the dirt.

121. Men In Black - Frank Black from 'The Cult Of Ray'

Frank loves UFOs.

Migraine gone. Bus ride gone. Thanks, iPod.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Gym, Night Bus, Morning Bus

As the title of today's post explains, this is a list of the songs I worked out to yesterday at lunch, the songs played on the bus ride home, and the songs played this morning as I came back to work.

I have moved on from David Sedaris and now I am currently reading Michael Chabon's 'The Yiddish Policeman's Union' for the third time. I love this book and it is, along with the iPod, saving me from the shift in bus schedule.

Pumping Iron:

43. Sunglasses At Night - Jaymz Bee's Royal Jelly Orchestra from 'Cocktail: Shakin' And Stirred'

This whole album makes me laugh. It came out during that whole odd cocktail party fad period when everyone was learning to make Screaming Vikings and insisting that their friends come over dressed in zoot suits and chiffon dresses. My thought is that if everyone has to put on a costume and it isn't Halloween you probably don't have the friendships you THINK you do. But this album is great. Like the best cheesy big band wedding band you've ever seen taking incongruous bad/good hits and sleeking them up until they are barely recognizable.

44. Memories Can't Wait - Living Colour from 'Vivid'

This is the best moment on this album and that is because it is a Talking Heads song.

45. On A Plain - Nirvana from 'Nevermind'

Sometimes a Nirvana song comes and goes and I don't think about the suicide of Kurt Cobain. This is not one of them. Sometimes it makes me angry, sometimes sad, and sometimes I move past those into simply wondering what he would be up to if he'd given himself the permission to enjoy this world and his talent in it. Oh, what do you know, I'm back to being angry.

46. Heart Of Gold - Neil Young from 'Harvest'

Is Mt. Rushmore a good statue? Kind of doesn't matter because it's a fucking mountain.

47. Glasshouse Tarot - Sparta from 'Wiretap Scars'

These guys get so much right. The production is impeccable, the playing is ferocious, the song titles are obscure and disturbing, but I get the impression that deep down they wish they were Van Halen. Just write a song about tits, fellas, you'll feel better.

48. Kosciusko - Midnight Oil from 'Red Sails In The Sunset'

I guess I don't think these Aussies get the full respect they deserve. Somehow they got lumped in with U2 back in the day, maybe because they wrote political songs that cried out against injustice. But U2 were great demagogues and propagandists. Midnight Oil were writing about obscure land grabs and mining towns rendered violent after Aboriginal/White Man conflagrations. I find myself WANTING to tune out because it is like being trapped by some righteous history professor. But the music always wins me over. If the lead singer weren't some giant bald freak they might be leading the charge on 3rd World Debt right alongside Bono Vox. Whose real name is fucking Paul, okay?

49. Paperwings - Damien Jurado & Gathered In Song from 'I Break Chairs'

Real deal. Great singer, great songs, great records. Heartbreaking and passionate in small and big ways simultaneously.

Night Bus:

50. Talkin' 'Bout You (Live) - Ray Charles from 'Ray Charles Live'

He just makes everybody else look bad. Period.

51. Everybody Hit The Ground - Poppa Foxtrot from 'Poppa Foxtrot'

Cousin Timothy does it again, a strange disturbing back beat threaded with helicopter and strange beeps and buzzes. It makes you feel as if you are being pursued by crooked cops.

52. The Ways Of A Woman In Love - Johnny Cash from 'The Sun Years'

Talk about Mt. Rushmore, holy shit. Every single one of these songs is ultimate perfection. You could run a train on the groove they lay down. You can tell it is all live. They recorded the song a whole bunch of times and then tried to figure out which lump of gold was the biggest. All the overproduced modern country singers should be forced to take off their makeup and sit the hell down and listen to this.

53. You Bowed Down (Demo) - Elvis Costello from 'All This Useless Beauty (Bonus Disc)'

I don't know when it happened but I had to jump off the Elvis train somewhere back down the line. Consequently I have missed his most prodigious output as he has been unbelievably prolific in the past ten years. Hearing this demo made me think I have a lot of catching up to do.

54. Theme From Tokyo - bis from 'Social Dancing'

I remember someone saying this band was going to be the next big thing. Somehow I came across a promotional copy of this 1999 album put out by the now defunct Beastie Boys label Grand Royal. All I'll say is there is something missing.

55. Three Days - Willie Nelson from 'Crazy: The Demo Sessions'

I was all excited to hear these tracks which Willie was laying down before anyone knew who he was in Nashville. But after I heard them all I could think was, well, of course no one knew who he was. These are half-baked boring songs that barely hint at the full-blown artistry that was just around the corner. He was not being himself.

56. Brothers In Arms - Dire Straits from 'Money For Nothing'

This song has come up a bunch of times lately on the ol' iPod shuffle and I usually skip it because I just don't want to hear Mark Knopfler talk about post traumatic stress disorder and soldiers. But in spite of that, he got me. Beautiful song, beautiful guitar playing, beautiful production. And this band was so huge he could have simply rode that wave forever and instead he broke it down so far people barely know who he is anymore. Strange.

57. Bowtie (Postlude) - Big Boi from 'Speakerboxx'

'Idlewild' is a terrible movie but these guys are the shit.

58. Fell In Love With A Girl - The White Stripes from 'White Blood Cells'

I have come to the conclusion that I simply don't care. It all started with the Bond song he did with Alicia Keys. Sounds like a great idea, right? Wrong. I never liked her but I was excited about the strange pairing of these two very different artists. It merely wound up pointing out both of their flaws. He only writes one song and she has style but no soul. As my Mum would say, "Big fakers."

59. Trust - Prince from 'Batman'

The anticipation of this movie cannot be overstated. Michael Keaton was a HUGE star, Jack Nicholson is Jack Nicholson, the world was still abuzz over Kim Basinger's breasts in 9 1/2 Weeks, and Tim Burton was the weirdo ready to take over the world...and Prince had not yet renounced his name and gone freaky.

And what happened? It was a massive hit. Which was not the definitive Batman. And the Prince songs? Not definitive Prince. The only definitive part of the whole thing was Nicholson. And spare me the Heath Ledger crap, okay? Yes, he was great but if you transplanted Nicholson into 'The Dark Knight' he'd have been just as revelatory.

And while we're on the subject, 'The Dark Knight' is NOT an important movie. Batman is not a metaphor for our souls. He's a CARTOON. So tired of people talking about that franchise as if it is some sort of cultural touchstone. Don't get me wrong, I love both Nolan Batman movies. But, really, you'd think it was '2001: A Space Odyssey' or 'Apocalypse Now' for chrissakes. IT'S BATMAN.

60. Goin' Out West - Tom Waits from 'Bone Machine'

Great song, great album. I just wish he'd followed it up with something slick and mainstream and accessible just to fuck with everybody. Instead he's gotten successively weirder until it's like some sort of contest to see how weird he can be. You think that was weird? Get a load of this song...it's a bout a spider who becomes the pope but then gets kidnapped by a roving gang of circus performers who are dedicated to the works of Machiavelli combined with manuals that describe how farm machinery works. I recorded it one day when I threw myself into a grain silo!

Hey, Tom, here's an idea...do a duet with Beyonce!

61. Open - The Cure from 'Wish'

They have outlasted everybody else and are now in Rolling Stones land where they put out the same album over and over and then tour the world for millions playing songs they wrote thirty years ago.

62. I Know You Know - Lyle Lovett from 'Lyle Lovett And His Large Band'

Take the rant I just wrote for Tom Waits and reverse it for Lyle Lovett. Fuck shit up, Lyle. It's too on the nose.

63. The 6-Teens - Sweet from 'The Best Of Sweet'

This is one of the most ridiculous songs of all time, chronicling the important story of a couple of hippies named Bobby and Billy or Billy and Jimmy or Bobby and Jilly who thought they were going to change the world in '68. But oh so much fun in the badness. Plus I don't know how these guys sing so high.

64. Brother Woodrow/Closing Prayer - The Afghan Whigs from 'Gentlemen'

This is a killer album, one that sucks me in ever time, one that I try to be cynical about but can't be once it starts playing. There are douchebags in love with the idea of being douchebags, a phase that a lot of guys go through. Guys are systematically taught to deny their feelings and intimidate. This album is the exultation of one of these assholes all grown up, right before something happens that will make him realize he has thrown his life away. What makes it interesting is that it is BEFORE he has the realization. Somehow The Afghan Whigs pull this off, a whole album that never really admits what we can't help but see. Brave and challenging.

65. River's Gonna Rise - David & David from 'Welcome To The Boomtown'

I love this album. And I love that these two sidemen briefly took over the world.

66. Electro-Shock Blues - Eels from 'Electro-Shock Blues'

I simply have no sympathy today.

67. Fruit Of The Vine - Jim White from 'Famous Shovels In Twain'

I don't know where I got this album from and this song reminds me of the annoying grown-up who tries to hijack a three year old's birthday party by cracking open the Pete Seeger songbook. Sit down ya pinko commie.

68. Never Leave My Rhyme Book Without My House - Pimp Fu from 'Raw Fushi...t'

I produced this album so I suppose I'm biased but I love every one of the 33 crazy tracks on it. Someday soon I'll get around to putting up a website devoted to the incredibly music my cousin makes and then you will all understand.

69. Safeway Cart - Neil Young & Crazy Horse from 'Sleeps With Angels'

Kurt Cobain quoted Neil Young in his suicide note. Neil Young recorded this album for him in response. Need I say more?

70. Margin Walker - Fugazi from '13 Songs'

One of the greatest rock songs of ALL time. I can't ever say enough about Fugazi.

71. It Makes No Difference - The Band from 'The Best Of The Band'

A killer ballad from The Band. Seriously, who could pull of naming themselves The Band? We are The Band. Not a band, not a band named...but simply The Band. This is a heartbreakingly sad song.

Morning Bus:

72. The Scientist - Coldplay from 'A Rush Of Blood To the Head'

I didn't care about these guys one way or another, still don't really, but this song will always have a special place in my heart. I stepped off the plane from NYC here in LA to do my cousin Mike's play 'Searching For Certainty'. It was a huge break for me. I went right to Mike's house and he gave me a mix of songs to listen to that had informed the latest draft of the play. He wanted me to take them to heart.

I went out into his guest house. It wasn't a rehearsal or anything but I was WORKING. And those 45 minutes set the whole process off for me in a profound way. Some of the songs I knew, some were new to me. I don't think I knew what Coldplay sounded like so this song wasn't tainted by any scorn I might have had for them as an entity. It was the straw that broke the camel's back and I broke down and cried for what the character I'd be playing had lost, what he'd endured, what he still hoped for in spite of it all.

And I cried a little bit just for me.

73. A Change Is Gonna Come - Graham Parker from '1989 Live! Alone In America'

Love this album. Great version of the classic soul protest song from Sam Cooke.

74. Smile - Weezer from 'Weezer (Green Album)'

These guys have curdled for me like a sweet cheese with too much sugar. Only the sweetness keeps it from being completely moldy and gross. But when they get it right there is nobody better.

75. Closer To The Heart - Jaymz Bee's Royal Jelly Orchestra from 'Cocktail: Shakin' And Stirred'


76. Darling Nikki - Prince from 'Purple Rain'

Still shocking. Still a great song.

77. Have A Drink On Me - AC/DC from 'Back In Black'

Thank you, I will.

78. Torture - The Replacements from 'Don't Tell A Soul'

I wore this album out as I jetted off to France nursing a broken heart.

79. Red-Haired Mary - The Clancy Brothers And Tommy Makem from 'In Concert'

When these guys get rolling it is a total blast.

80. The Kid In The Well - Lenny Bruce from 'The Lenny Bruce Originals - Volume 1'

Impossible to explain.

81. You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch) - Bruce Springsteen from 'The River (Disc 1)'


82. Give It Up - Amos Lee from 'Amos Lee'

Very talented guitar player, very talented singer...boring ass songs.

83. It's About Time - The Lemonheads from 'Come On Feel The Lemonheads'

Way underrated.

84. I Can Love You Better - Dixie Chicks from 'Wide Open Spaces'

Whenever I hear these gals now I can't help but think of the documentary about them, 'Shut Up And Sing' in which they face the backlash from the comment made by the lead singer about George Bush. I kind of don't care about all that but the fiddle playing sister was fascinating to me. She seems to know somewhere deep inside that she is the luckiest chick on earth so she wanders around saying vague things about wanting to make sure that they always evolve and what if this is the best we'll ever be and wah wah wah. I wanted to smack her and say, 'Look, bitch, you won the fuckin' lottery, quit yer bitchin'.'

I know the title of the documentary was supposed to be a poke in the eye at the right wingers who were attacking them for expressing their views about Bush but I kind of wound up agreeing with it. Shut up and sing.

85. Back In The U.S.S.R. - The Beatles from 'The Beatles Disc 1'

In one song they pack The Beach Boys up in a nice little package and tell them how it is done. The original rap feud.

86. When Big Joan Sets Up - Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band from 'Trout Mask Replica'

I remember reading about this mysterious album in Rolling Stone where it was named one of the Top Ten Albums of all time. I was in high school and I'd never heard of these guys, how could they have made one of the top ten albums of all time? I don't know about top ten but it is certainly magnificent. And nearly impossibly to listne to.

87. Chinatown - Jets To Brazil from 'Orange Rhyming Dictionary'

These guys are for me like those hammers they hit your knees with to see how your reflexes are. No matter how much I gird myself I'm never ready for it.

88. Dumb - Nirvana from 'MTV Unplugged In New York'

Amazing that he pulled this show off considering how far down the rabbit hole he'd already fallen. Oh, mad again.

89. Lucky Day - Tom Waits from 'The Black Rider'

See above. Beyonce, are you listening?

90. ...And Justice For All - Metallica from '...And Justice For All'

This was the album that brought these guys across the metal divide. They would drive that spike through our collective hearts on the next one, the black album 'Metallica', but this one made people nervous. Like, metal bands aren't supposed to write 9 minute epics about war veterans. Where are the girls in bikinis and pussy jokes? As much as I love this album, it is clear that they desperately needed an editor. Enter Bob Rock. Rock history ensues.

91. Power & The Passion - Midnight Oil from '10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1'

Boy, that's an annoying title to type. But a great song. Great album.

Whew. Finished with those segments. Next up I'll be off to the gym to begin the three-pronged iPod shuffle pattern all over again.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

No More 920 Bus

Today I've been dreading for a while now. The city has seen fit to discontinue the 920 Express Bus which only makes these stops between Koreatown and Santa Monica: Vermont, Western, Fairfax, Beverly, Westwood, 4th Street. I get on an empty bus at Vermont, by Western it's full, it empties and slightly refills at Westwood, and 4th Street is the end of the line. The official reasoning is that the line isn't necessary and not enough people use it. But since it is fucking packed every day I don't get it.

So now I get the joy of the 720 Local instead. It has already made a number of stops before I get on at Vermont so it isn't empty and I am not assured a seat. It stops every few blocks. I can't tell you how disheartening this prospect is. The only upside is that I will be spending MUCH more time on the bus now so my "Listen To My Whole iPod Once Through On Random Project" will end quicker than I originally thought.

The first few songs on today's list, though, I actually listened to YESTERDAY at my daily lunch workout at the YMCA.

20. Murder Game - P$C from 'Hustle & Flow'

This is a great soundtrack. Great movie. If the music wasn't GREAT and I mean GREAT the movie would be TERRIBLE. Because you have to believe in the power of D-Jay as a rap artist or else it is an exercise in delusion. This is one of those Dirty South criminal anthems that have you tapping your toes and furtively looking over your shoulder to make sure there isn't a cold blooded killer standing there with a gun and a smile on his face.

21. Blueberry Hill - Louie Armstrong from 'All-Time Greatest Hits'

Being a kid who loved blueberries with an unadulterated passion, I always thought this song was about blueberries. That the hill was covered with blueberries and THAT was Louie's thrill.

22. Going Down - Ani DiFranco from 'Dilate'

I am truly conflicted about Ani DiFranco. From moment to moment I alternately love her and am 100% annoyed. Her guitar playing is instantly recognizable and unique, her singing occasionally rivals the worst bullshit you see in self-indulgent acting classes. Her lyrics are intricate and heartbreaking, her delivery of same reminds me of a stand-up comedian trying to do Hamlet. Oh, Ani, you confuse me so.

23. Alright Hear This - The Beastie Boys from 'Ill Communication'

I saw The Beastie Boys do the Lollapalooza tour in 1994. I still think they are the reason why Smashing Pumpkins have slid to the dustbin of our collective memory. Some genius had the idea that The Beastie Boys weren't the headliners. Smashing Pumpkins had to follow this frenetic frenzied instrument switching hyperactive pranksters and it was as if an angry waiter dumped a turd into my bowl of sugar cereal. People started streaming out of the fairgrounds in droves, preferring to hit the port-a-potty so they could get out of there to listening to one-note Johnny and the My-Life-Is-So-Hards.

24. Smells Like Teen Spirit (Demo) - Nirvana from 'With The Lights Out (Disc 2)'

My workout ended just as this song began and I have to admit that I thought I'd just skip it the next morning when I got back on the bus. But I found myself listening to it this morning with a new found sense of awe. This band in its raw unfiltered state was truly something to behold.

25. Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing - Stevie Wonder from 'Innervisions'

I discovered this album in college and went crazy for it. Still going crazy for it.

26. Waterloo Sunset - The Kinks from 'The Ultimate Collection (Disc 1)'

Terry Reid. Broke my heart singing this song at Big Mondays.

27. Drain You - Nirvana from 'From The Muddy Banks Of The Wishkah'

And here they go again. A tsunami of melody trapped inside one of those giant machines that crush cars in junkyards.

28. I'm Not There - Buffalo Tom from 'Let Me Come Over'

Sorry guys, following 'Drain You' this sounds like a piece of cotton candy blowing away in a light breeze. It's actually a great song but in this case you're like Smashing Pumpkins following The Beastie Boys. Nothing could follow 'Drain You'.

29. Uptight (Everything's Alright) - Stevie Wonder from 'For Once In My Life/Uptight'

Joy on wheels.

30. Stranger In Moscow - Michael Jackson from 'HIStory (Disc 2)'

Even his capitalization of HIS in HIStory is weird. HIS tory? What's a tory, Michael? What the FUCK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? The thing that fascinates me about this guy is how personal and weird his music is...

It is either a massive diversionary tactic of musical propaganda designed to make me stop believing he liked little boys or it's...nope, it's a massive diversionary tactic of musical propaganda designed to make me stop believing he liked little boys.

31. Good Day - Paul Westerberg from 'Open Season Soundtrack'

Another weird non-success/success story for Mr. Westerberg. This song first appeared on his album 'Eventually' which was ignored on a giant scale by fans and newcomers alike. It's inclusion on this soundtrack is perfect thematically, his other songs on the album are hilarious ('Right To Arm Bears'???) but 'Lion King' it ain't. The kids probably wondered why a guy with a cold was singing alongside Ashton Kutcher.

32. I Typed For Miles - Jets To Brazil from 'Orange Rhyming Dictionary'

Sand and heat is bad for heartbreak. They don't believe in the mirage that has lingered in front of them for so long out there on the plain of desert. Where they came from is better than where they'll wind up but it is all diminishing returns so why not just keep moving forward?

33. The Fool On The Hill - The Beatles from 'Magical Mystery Tour'


34. Sometimes It's You - Jack Logan from 'Bulk (Disc 1)'

This is fine but I am bored.

35. War - Big Boi from 'Speakerboxx'

Sleek and scary.

36. Lovin' You Lots And Lots - The Norm Wooster Singers from 'That Thing You Do!'

Tom Hanks!!!

37. Love - Destiny's Child from 'Destiny Fulfilled'

When we were doing the West Coast Premiere of 'Diverting Devotion', Melody and I were acting together in extremely painful scenes. To counter this emotional drudgery, we listened to Destiny's Child in the car on the way to the theater.

38. Spin The Black Circle - Pearl Jam from 'Vitalogy'

Listen to Husker Du much? Every time I hear this riff it sounds like song number thirteen on 'Zen Arcade' and I get excited. Then Eddie starts looking in the mirror and trying to cry and it gets old real fast.

39. Emancipation - Prince from 'Emancipation (Disc 3)'

Mr. Numerology released all three discs and made sure each had 12 songs and lasted exactly 1 hour each. What that means I have no idea but this song is funky.

40. Backstreets - Bruce Springsteen from 'Born To Run'

I've written about my feelings about the E Street Band before. I don't believe a note of what they play except on 'Born In The U.S.A.' because he wasn't asking them to be some BAND, they were just players executing the music to the best of their ability. Bruce seems to want to be in The Rolling Stones but really he's more like Bob Seeger to Silver Bullet. Stop pretending you're in The Clash when you are a solo artist.

41. Wayfaring Stranger - Eva Cassidy from 'Songbird'

I love this song. She overdoes it a bit.

42. In The Fade - Queens Of The Stone Age from 'Rated R'

With Mark Lanegan of Screaming Trees lending his eerie bleak croon to the QOTSA whirlpool, a whole new vortex of sound opens up. The stoner reputation they have means they are not taken seriously enough which I suppose is fine with them but history will be much more appreciative. This is complex deep dark stuff.

Later today I'll get back on the 720 local and continue my quest.

Monday, December 13, 2010

One Long Shuffle

If I understand the technology correctly (and this is a large assumption to make), the iPod, when instructed to "shuffle", arranges everything on the iPod in a random order and then plays. Theoretically, it would play every song on the iPod. I will be testing this theory of mine in the least scientific and most circuitous route possible. Meaning that this morning as I stood and waited for my bus, I hit shuffle and I intend to let the iPod play that shuffle until it is finished. It played 19 songs this morning as I bounced my way from Koreatown to Santa Monica. 19 of 6,973.

I then paused it as I got to work. I will start it up again when I go work out at the gym. I will then pause it after I finish sculpting myself into the form of a Greek God. A slightly pudgy Greek God. I will then start it up again when I get back on the bus...etc. etc. My rule this time is simple. No pausing. No skipping. Even the damn chakra chants. Even The Jam. Even The Backstreet Boys live at The Concert For New York.

And how the hell did they get added to that bill? Just what the country needed in the wake of 9/11...

How long will it take me to listen to every song on my iPod? We shall find out together.

1. Soul Sanctuary - Prince from 'Emancipation (Disc 2)'

This triple album always makes me sad because Prince was reclaiming his name while he dealt with the death of his newborn child whose heartbeat we hear on a shattering song called "Curious Child". This song is a declaration of love, also rendered quite sad by the dissolution of his marriage sometime thereafter. But a beautiful beautiful love song nonetheless.

2. Nuclear War (Version 1) - Yo La Tengo from 'Prisoners Of Love (Disc 2)'

When Yo La Tengo weave harmonies and dissonant guitar over their oddly funky punk manifestos, I like them. When they chant together for seven minutes over a tired back beat about how bad nuclear war is? I really question my decision to not allow myself to skip any songs. Only 6,971 to go. Shit.

3. Sans Rehearsal - V-Dubs from 'Live At Molly Malone's'

I named this damn band! My good friend Erik Van Wyck is a fantastic actor, writer, film-maker, and father. He is also one of the greatest guitarists I have ever seen. In some other life he is giving John Mayer a run for his money and Eric Clapton is beating down his door to do one last duet that will open up the teen market to him. This is taken from a charity concert at Molly Malone's. We'd played a show together a year or so before in which I insisted on giving everyone in the band a nickname. I was the George Bush of delusional rock stars! From Van Wyck I came up with V-Dub. And he ran with it. This is an unrehearsed jam that ended the show. Normally I blanch at the word JAM but there is no other word to sufficiently capture the raucousness in play. And my cousin Josh Economy blows several doors of several hinges with his trumpet. Shortly after this he would become the trumpet player in THE Army Jazz Band. As in, he's the best trumpet player in the country.

4. Meyer: Short Trip Home - Edgar Meyer, Joshua Bell, Mike Marshall from 'Heartland: An Appalachian Anthology'

This is a gorgeous album of bluegrass mixed with classical arrangement. Yo-Yo Ma shows up somewhere playin' a fiddle for the first time instead of a violin and the whole thing is a testament to the beauty of this country.

5. At Long Last Love - Frank Sinatra from 'Frank Sinatra Sings The Select Cole Porter'

Imagine that you could pinpoint the specific game in which Michael Jordan was at the very pinnacle of his talent. He was great the day before and he'd be great for years to come. But somewhere in his career, the greatest that ever was was the best he ever would be. This album is that game.

6. Bankrobber - The Clash from 'Story Of the Clash, Volume 1 (Disc 1)'

I am still upset about Joe Strummer. Why? No offense, God, but you left Sammy Hagar around and took Joe Strummer from us? You must be a Clash fan.

7. Down The Road - Doc Watson from 'The Doc Watson Family'

I hate to keep ragging on Clapton but this guy makes him look like he never even SAW a guitar.

8. The Origin Of Love - John Cameron Mitchell from 'Hedwig And The Angry Inch OST'

I am one of the lucky few who saw the original production of this legendary play at The Jane Theater down in Greenwich Village. As with many of my finest memories I have my cousin Mike to thank. He was beginning a collaboration with the director of the piece, Peter Askin, on a play called "Searching For Certainty". Peter just directed the film version of that play. Very proud to have been a part of the play and now the movie, albeit in a different part. "Hedwig" was the talk of the town and when I saw it, it was not hard to understand why. I laughed, I wept, I sat on the edge of my seat. This song is so genius that I don't even want to explain it to you. Go listen to the whole thing from beginning to end.

9. Lost Highway - Hank Williams from 'Lonesome Blues'

How was he only in his 20's when he sang this? Honestly, did he time-travel? He sounds 300 years old.

10. Love Untold - Paul Westerberg from 'Eventually'

I HATED this album when it came out. HATED. Boy, was I wrong. I listened to it a couple of times, wrote it off, put it away. Years later, during the difficult time right after the end of my marriage, I begrudgingly gave it another try. And promptly had a nervous breakdown.

11. The Light - The Proclaimers from 'Hit The Highway'

These guys are lovely.

12. Alone Together - The Strokes from 'Is This It?'

Somehow the images of New York that these guys conjure up for me are too painful. I love them, but it hurts to listen to them.

13. Happy Town - The Replacements from 'All Shook Down'

In Replacements-land, this album is not looked on as one of their best. I disagree. I love every song on it and think that, as usual with The Replacements, they did the right thing at the wrong time. Five years later Wilco would make a career based on this blueprint and their best song can't touch the worst one on this album.

14. Sinister Exaggerator - Primus from 'Miscellaneous Debris'

Primus covers The Residents. Weirdness meets weirdness. Sort of points out how weak some of Primus' songs are when they do one by someone else.

15. Walk In The Woods - The Fatima Mansions from 'Lost In The Former West'

The lost great band of the 1990's. This is a monster song.

16. Taper Jean Girl - Kings Of Leon from 'Aha Shake Heartbreak'

They are so popular now that it is no longer in vogue to like them but when you cut through all the hype they are just a great Southern rock band.

17. The Good Life/I Wanna Be Around - Tony Bennett from 'Unplugged'

The piano/upright bass/drum trio backing Tony up are BADASSES TO THE NTH DEGREE. As great as he is, I tune him out a bit and focus on what is holding him up. These guys are killers.

18. Stigmata Martyr - Bauhaus from 'In The Flat Field'

I am a late uneasy convert to the Bauhaus fold. Not sure how I feel about them but it is almost 40 years later and no one sounds like Bauhaus. Totally original. But I don't always like it. Today I do and I get a kick out of the silly religious title.

19. Sickness - Iggy Pop from 'American Caesar'

Give it up, Iggy. Stop working out. Relax.

Part 1 of Project Exhaust IPOD complete. In a half hour I will go to the gym and listen to the next batch.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Bus Took A Right!!!

Today the bus took a turn. Big deal, you say. So what?

In my three years of public transportation use in LA, the bus has ventured off of Wilshire Boulevard exactly twice. Once when President Obama was in town and today.

So, yes, big deal. We were at the intersection of Wilshire and La Cienega. We'd sat through three lights already. When the bus driver swung that wheel and brought us off of Wilshire and onto La Cienega it was such a shock that is was like being on a roller coaster.

The day Obama diverted our bus I sat next to a very large black woman who spoke on her cell phone as if she were at a Metallica concert. She began to complain that the bus was being routed along Pico because of the President. She said, "Now I understand why people are changin' they minds about him."

Now months later after he just got rejected by his own party when he tried to extend Bush tax cuts I understand as well.

1. Fields Of Gold - Eva Cassidy

For many years I thought that Eva Cassidy was alive and black. Imagine my surprise to find that she was white and dead. And that she could somehow, from beyond the grave, with white skin, save this Sting song from itself.

2. Old Brown Shoe - The Beatles

I don't remember hearing this song today. We hadn't turned off Wilshire yet and I was engrossed in David Sedaris' hilarious "Dress Your Family In Corduroy And Denim".

3. How Many More Times - Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin could sing the phone book and it would rock. Hard.

4. Molly And Tenbrooks - Sam Bush And Friends

Bluegrass players make me sick. The worst one is better than your favorite guitar player.

5. Season Of The Shark - Yo La Tengo

I am mildly perplexed whenever I see the name Yo La Tengo. I listen, I like. And then they exit my brain COMPLETELY until the next time. They have no staying power in my soul.

6. Sunny Afternoon - The Kinks

I am a late arrival to The Kinks bandwagon and I jumped on because of Terry Reid. For a while Terry Reid sang with Big Mondays out here in LA at The Joint in a band led by Waddy Wachtel. Some of the greatest musical moments I've witnessed happened with that particular group. One of which was Terry Reid singing "Waterloo Sunset". I'd never heard it and it left me almost in tears in the bar. I think I Googled it and was shocked to find out it was The Kinks. I decided then and there that I was a full on convert. In fact I felt guilty that I'd waited so long.

7. My Phone's On Vibrate For You - Rufus Wainwright

If Rufus Wainwright doesn't age gracefully I'm going to be very upset with him. Because I don't think anyone has ever come straight out of the gate with as many perfections as he as. Most artists either warm up over several albums or cool off or take a bad step but this little fucker keeps topping himself. Love love love love love.

8. Enchanting Transylvania - Lenny Bruce

If you have never heard Lenny Bruce you ought to be ashamed of yourself. The greatest ever.

9. Canstlleation Funk - El-P

The "Fantastic Damage" album is one of those sonic clusterfucks that gets gnarlier every time you hear it. It is instantly recognizable when it comes on and while it is impressive music it is disheartening. Why? Claustrophobia, misanthropy, despair, violence, regret, disdain, and psychosis make strange bedfellows with sick beats and dope rhymes.

10. I Get A Kick Out Of You - Dolly Parton

If you think Dolly is all boobs you're an idiot.

11. Mansion On The Hill - Bruce Springsteen

When Bruce nails it he really nails it. This song shoots a painful arrow right into my gut every single time.

12. I Love Paris - Screamin' Jay Hawkins

This guy is truly nuts.

13. My New Town - Jack Logan

More painful arrows in guts.

14. I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself - The White Stripes

15. I Can't Wait - The White Stripes

I wonder if Jack White is living up to his potential.

16. Jilla Done Smell Nice - Pimp Fu


17. Moon River - Oranj Symphonette


18. Where Did You Sleep Last Night - Leadbelly


19. Basin Street Blues - Miles Davis


See, a detour by the bus was just enough to make me incapable of analysis all the way to the end of the trip. Besides, Sedaris just got funnier and funnier. Now I need a new book.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tuesday Night, Wednesday Morning

I am combining two bus rides. I listened to my iPod last night on the ride from Santa Monica to Koreatown, paused the iPod and started it up again this morning as I got on to ride from Koreatown to Santa Monica.

32 songs. Annoyed quite often with the selection I am judging myself.

Except for # 1.

1. The Fat Shit - Poppa Foxtrot

My cousin Timothy was Pimp Fu. Then he decided that Pimp Fu had to go. The military nomenclature dictated that he now be called Poppa Foxtrot. In this song he muses, "I gotta know if ya like the fat shit". I speak for all of us when I say, yes, yes, Poppa, we like the fat shit.

2. It's - King Missile

For some reason the iPod has been sniffing these guys out and while I can still connect to the reasons I loved it in the first place, I am NOT connecting to the music in the present. The chorus of this song goes "It's trite, contrived, and appallingly boring" and indeed it is.

3. Shunned & Falsified - Mike Doughty

I've been disappointed with Doughty outside of this album, "Skittish" which strips away all the bells and whistles and leaves merely his voice and the propulsion of his rhythm guitar. Less is definitely more.

4. Desperate People - Living Colour

I thought Living Colour were going to be the new Rolling Stones or something. Turns out it was The Roots instead.

5. Kissing A Mechanic - Brendan O'Malley

Take the poem I wrote the night I met Melody, add a night of drinking and smoking cigarettes on top of a bronchial infection, throw in a dash of two-chord fuzz, and top it all off with an improvised run on "-anic" and what do you get? 7 minutes of me.

6. Gotta Be Insanity - Ice Cube

Cube rules.

7. Greed - Ice Cube

Cube rules II, a rare back to back from the shuffle.

8. Sathington Waltz - Primus

In the beginning they seemed like the wise prankster who was in on things you didn't know about. By the time album six rolled around they were more like the undisciplined kid next door who thinks you should listen to him sing "Old MacDonald" in a pirate costume. And his parents encourage him.

9. Pembroke - Soul Side

Bland emo-core. Again, good thing David Sedaris' book is so hilarious.

10. Down About It - The Lemonheads

I dig this tune but Juliana Hatfield pipes up on harmony in the middle and ruins it. Her voice is like nails on a chalkboard to me.

11. Blues Before Sunrise - Eric Clapton

No one had the balls to say, "Um, Eric, you know when you growl and try to sound like a big fat black dude? It's kind of embarrassing. And in some obscure way, it's racist and makes us all uncomfortable. Sick guitar playing, but still..."

12. R.A.K.I.M. - Rakim


13. Alison - Pixies

Tight punk. And I ain't talkin' 'bout Alison.

14. KC Accidental - Broken Social Scene

Sonic Youth if fronted by one of the Jonas Brothers. I fell asleep four times in this even though it has eighteen false crescendos.

15. She Loves You - The Beatles

Thank you gentlemen for cleaning my aural palate so thoroughly.

16. What More Can I Say - Jay-Z

Epic, awesome, moving, funny, sleek.

17. Eyes Have Miles - G. Love & Special Sauce

You put something precious in a time capsule. You open it up and no matter how precious it was, it'll still be surrounded by stale air. Hello G. Love. P-U!

18. Dancing Queen - ABBA

See G. Love.

19. Atlantic City - Bruce Springsteen

This is the only track on "Nebraska" that I do not like and it is because you can hear the non-existent echo of the E-Street Band trying to drag Bruce into Mr. Showmanship mode which I've always hated. I only like creepy Bruce or big angry Vietnam Bruce, I despise Mr. We-Want-To-Rock-Your-Backyard-With-Our-Good-Time-Vibe Bruce. Just never believed it for a second. And this track seems to come from that place, where his archetypes curdle into cliche.

20. What Doesn't Belong To Me - Sinead O'Connor

Shut up.

21. Drown Soda - Hole

Shut up, jr.

22. Sinful Love - Blue Oyster Cult

Shut up, III.

23. What's The Difference - Dr. Dre

Ah, like a day at the phat spa. When you strip the vocals from this album it shines even brighter, somehow, like a diamond that is taken and put on a black velvet background.

24. Swimming In The Ocean - David & David

This album holds a very soft spot in my heart for some reason. David & David were the biggest thing in the world for a very short period and it hit me just right. This song is kind of bland but I still like it. It's like the G. Love analogy except someone somehow managed to keep the fart smell from growing inside this time capsule.

25. Lurgee - Radiohead

Hypnotic, the only track I can stand off of "Pablo Honey" which is only interesting to me now because it makes everything that follows such a surprise. Mediocre prog rock.

26. Subterranean Homesick Alien - Radiohead

And, voila. Radiohead arrives.

27. Ziggy Stardust - David Bowie

Today I have no patience for The Thin White Duke or whoever he is. Sometimes I get sucked in and others I am left cold. Today I am freezing.

28. Breath - Pearl Jam

I still associate this album with France as it was given to me before I left and I wore it out over there. In that way it is a pleasant reminder but I have come to cringe at Eddie Vedder's singing. He reminds me of Rob Estes on "Silk Stalkings". So over the top it is enjoyable but you know HE thinks he deserves an Oscar. Occasionally when Eddie really gets into it I picture him dry heaving into his studiously artistic toilet.

29. Primal Ground - Jonathan Goldman

Somehow this album of "Chakra Chants" made its way onto my iPod and I wonder what I can chant to make it disappear.

30. Groove Holmes - The Beastie Boys

Fun fluff.

31. Flower - Liz Phair

This album became a big deal because of her tits but every single song is heartbreaking, funny, sexy, angry, stupid, goofy, meaningful, deep and delirious, all at the same time. If you want to know what it was like to date girls in the early '90's, just pop this one on.

32. What Do You Do - The Proclaimers


See ya tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sedaris And Exhaust

I cheated today. I hit shuffle and the first thing that came up was Igor Stravinsky's 'Rite Of Spring'. Don't get me wrong, I love this particular piece of music but 22 minutes is too long to listen to classical music on a rattling bus. So I restarted...to fantastic results.

1. Save Me - Queen

I relate, Freddy.

2. Debbie Denise - Blue Oyster Cult

This song sounds like a high school physics teacher trying to be risque and hip while talking about the periodic table. When I finally get around to updating my gigantic iTunes collection and reconfigure the iPod, Blue Oyster Cult will be banished forever. Fear the reaper, gentlemen.

3. Chain Of Fools - Aretha Franklin

As I listened to Aretha nail this song to the wall and make it fresh even though I've heard it 87 billion times, I wondered what would become of Aretha today. She'd have some followers on the web, she'd play out live a lot, but Queen of Soul? They'd hire some scrawny little hip-hop dancer to lip synch in a stupid video and that'd be that.

4. A Mistake - Fiona Apple

"I'm gonna make a mistake/I'm gonna do it on purpose"

Love that line. I have run the gamut with Fiona Apple and have finally come to the conclusion that I am in. All the way. She is self-indulgent, obscure, a half-tone flat on occasion, and I still feel vaguely manipulated by her first video which made me pay more attention to her underwear than her song. This album isn't great but it led to "Extraordinary Machine" which is a masterpiece. Can't wait to see what she'll get up to next. I also sort of wish I didn't know that she'd been raped when she was 12. They trotted that tidbit out when she first hit the scene as if it gave some weight to the painful vibe of her music. But her music doesn't need that to stand on its own.

5. War & Peace - Ice Cube


6. When You Wake Up Feeling Old - Wilco

When you follow Ice Cube with a song about being tired and old you have a lot of explaining to do. I love Wilco but every time I hear Jeff Tweedy sing as if the microphone is a boulder and he is Sisyphus down in the dell I want to give him a smack. Hey Jeff, why not talk trash like Ice Cube? Lob a verbal grenade at Stephen Malkmus or Fall Out Boy. Or Ice Cube, for that matter. Start a feud with Ice Cube instead of whining about how creaky you are before you have your rock star coffee.

7. Oh! You Pretty Things - David Bowie

David Bowie was unsuccessful for almost ten years before "Space Oddity". He was well known, making a good deal of money, famous enough to be on the BBC "Live at the BBC" series.

But, as this song shows, his songs stunk. And he had lots of 'em. Loads and loads of stinkers.

Point being, you cannot be afraid to fail, to do things that in retrospect won't be any good. You have to get through a whole host of stinkers to get to the gold mine.

8. Hand Of Kindness - Richard Thompson

If the Devil came to me and said I could play guitar like Richard Thompson in exchange for a few favors, my place in Heaven would be in jeopardy. Somehow he weaves solos and furious rhythm guitar playing together until it is some hybrid of the two. Not the note-crazy jerking off that most guitarists immediately go for, but intricate, brutal, direct and tender meanderings. If you say his name as I pick up my guitar I will be forced to put it back inside the case.

9. Lazy Head And Sleepybones - They Might Be Giants

Anything that reminds me of Cashel as a young boy is killing me these days. Killing me.

10. Sabrosa - The Beastie Boys

I picture The Beastie Boys stoned out of their minds in a warehouse of their own design, puffing joints on skateboards shooting down ramps as one of them starts jamming out on some vintage instrument that is lying around. Slowly they all leave whatever individual novelty they are messing around with (Galaga video game, Rubik's cube, Jenga...) and drift to the performance space behind the hot tub. This is what they come up with. Words? We don' need no stinkin' words...

11. Charlie, The Methadone Man - Fastball

I like their sound. I like the cut of their jib. I am laughing at one of the chapters in the David Sedaris book I'm reading which is about his youth in North Carolina. Anything to do with North Carolina makes me think of Melody and feels as if it is part of some secret world I've been invited into.

12. Our Mutual Friend - The Divine Comedy

Baz Luhrman needs to call this guy up and make a musical with him. Seriously. Something about a ship sailing over the end of the earth into some gigantic sea monster's mouth. But one lone pirate hangs onto a rock over the abyss, channeling the love for the maiden he left behind into survival...how will he make it back across the ocean without a boat? I dunno, ask Baz...

13. Tunic (Song For Karen) - Sonic Youth

This song is as creepy as they come. Karen Carpenter is dead and in Heaven. She talks to her brother and her mother respectively about how happy she is now and how they shouldn't worry about her. She's with all of her friends and they are starting a band. She's back playing the drums. Kim Gordon sings all of this in her dead monotone and you can almost hear her disappearing as she stares at herself in the mirror.

14. The Holiday Song - Pixies

Rockin' goodness from Pixies. I recently learned that it is not THE Pixies, just Pixies. So there's that.

15. P.S. You Rock My World - Eels

Here is another doom and gloom singer that I really loved at one point and merely annoys me now. See above response to Wilco. I get it. Life sucks. So why do you want me to pay any attention to you, then? YOU suck.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my morning commute.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Bus Ride Soundtrack

In Los Angeles, there are two kinds of people who ride the bus. Crazy people and me.

I use several strategies to keep the rest of 'em from getting their crazy hooks in me and crazying me up by osmosis. I adopt a vague smiley unthreatening lack of attention. I appear to be interested in the sights when in fact if I never take Wilshire from Koreatown to Santa Monica again it will be too soon. My eye trajectory is always at a 45 degree angle looking at feet and shins. Nothing higher or you risk being drawn into drama that sure, you have sympathy for, but on a crowded commute you HAVE TO IGNORE.

My primary weapons against soul infiltration from the psycho brigade?

Books and my iPod.

On this blog I've written about 50 Great Albums and 50 Great Books, many of which I've read and listened to on the 720 Local or 920 Express while studiously failing to notice the deranged lunatic berating the bus driver for being part of a conspiracy.

Larry laughs at me for giving my iPod human qualities that inform the choices it makes. But I don't care what he says. I am in great debt to the ones and zeros coded into that little friend of mine that make such a commute possible.

1. The Boy Who Ate Lasagna And Could Jump Over A Church - King Missile 'The Way to Salvation'

I bought this album because I liked the cover. I'd not heard a note. And I liked it so much that it wound up being one of the albums I took with me to France. This was back in Walkman days so I had to limit myself to about 20 albums that would fit in a case. It annoys me a bit now but there are still several fantastic tunes on here. This song occurs early in the album and is then reprised in such a way that a joke is told. It's a bit precious and self-conscious but I like it.

2. 11:11 - Rufus Wainwright 'Want One'

When Rufus sings "everything really does happen in Manhattan" it chills me to the bone. And for the first time I realized that he'd made a visual reference to the Twin Towers in the title of the song as well as merely saying "eleven". Truly a heartbreaking gorgeous love letter of an elegy/eulogy.

3. Bargain - The Who 'Who's Next'

There was a time in high school when I hated The Who on principle because they were classic rock. Then in college I changed my mind because I heard "Who By Numbers". This song reminds me of high school, frankly.

4. Bigger Than Need Or Greed - Andre Williams 'Bait & Switch'

I've written of The Black Godfather on this blog before. I've seen him four times now, twice in New York City, once in Amsterdam, and once in Los Angeles. I'll just quote him here to make my point. "Would I die for you, baby? Hell, no."

5. Where You Going - Jimmie Dale Gilmore 'Spinning Around The Sun'

I remember first hearing of Jimmie Dale Gilmore when he cut a track with Mudhoney, the grunge jesters from Seattle. I still haven't heard that song (what the hell am I waiting for???) but his name stuck in my head. I thought it cool that a country musician would cross that divide. This 'Spinning Around The Sun' album is sheer perfection.

6. Let's Do It - Joan Jett & Paul Westerberg 'Tank Girl Soundtrack'

I saw 'Tank Girl' in a $3 movie theater in Smithfield, RI. I love it. It is WAY better than it has any right to be and a great aspect of the movie is the music. Eclectic, hard-hitting, cross-genre, exciting. Of course I'm biased because Westerberg is my hero but, c'mon, Cole Porter? Joan Jett? Punk rock? This track is sick.

7. Mother Of The Bride - Billy Bragg 'Don't Try This At Home'

Unfortunately for Billy Bragg he later worked with Wilco on the Woody Guthrie "Mermaid Avenue" albums and made it impossible for me to care about his own work. Pretty much the same goes for Wilco.

8. The Garden - Guns N' Roses 'Use Your Illusion I'

The 'Use Your Illusion' albums were two of my France albums as well. I am one of the few who love Guns N' Roses the further they get from Paradise City.

9. What Do You Do/The Glory of Love - Lyle Lovett 'Lyle Lovett And His Large Band'

What's out the window? I'm on the bus. I'm reading a book. It's Friday. I hope I don't fall asleep and miss my stop because of Lyle Fuckin' Lovett. Good God. Ambien in an MP3.

10. Guilty Of Being White - Minor Threat 'Minor Threat: Complete Discography'

This'll wake ya up! Wow. Ian MacKaye had to beat the skinheads off with a stick after this one. He has always maintained that it is a song about racism but man is he poking a stick into a wasp nest.

11. Crackle & Drag (original take) - Paul Westerberg 'Come Feel Me Tremble'

Paul Westerberg has turned his back on the record industry. The result? Two different takes of a song about Sylvia Plath. Stay down in the basement, Paul. The greatest ever.

12. Bad Show - Soul Side 'Soon-Come-Happy'

This DC hardcore/emo band is important in an almost impossibly obscure way to a whole slew of fans. Their slow heavy emotional style was a precursor to Fugazi and they influenced a great number of young punks by giving them permission to stop chanting slogans and start singing about themselves.

13. Another One Bites The Dust - Queen 'Greatest Hits'

What is there to say? Queen is one of those bands that has fans in every quarter. If you don't love Queen you are just an idiot.

14. I Love A Piano - Tony Bennett 'Unplugged'

I have grown tired of this album over the years, mostly because they audience claps before each song when Tony introduces it even though you know NONE of the MTV extras planted have any idea what a Steinway is or who Irving Berlin was.

15. Neighborhood # 2 (Laika) - Arcade Fire 'Funeral'

I wish Scientology on no one but couldn't they just annex these douchebags? I hate this band.

Off the bus and now I can look up at the world again. Once again my trusty friend the iPod kept me safe from LA mass transit users.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Beach Detectives Premieres!!!

I recently completed the first episode of a web series called "Beach Detectives". My good buddy Larry Clarke and I are co-conspirators and had a lot of help from a lot of really talented folks.

Thanks to everyone involved!


Beach Detectives!