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.