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'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'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 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.