Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Jackass 3: Meaningless Bravery

I once saw a portion of a documentary about a South American tribe. Part of their ritual passage to adulthood involved elaborate stunts designed to bring the youth face to face with fear. They stood on top of tree trunks that had been shorn of all branches. The trunks were held in place by guide wire. Which were then removed. The teen had to scramble to hold onto the falling trunk. The philosophy behind it was to prepare the teen for the perils of adulthood and hunting.

I studiously avoided "Jackass" while it was on television and by the time they'd transitioned into movie theaters I was full-on into parenting and was only seeing Pixar films.

Oh, I'd seen snippets here and there and knew who all the reprobates were but I'd not been IMMERSED.

My outlook on them, I'll admit, was shaped in large part by the traditional media response. They were degenerates, this was everything that was wrong with America, these no-talent attention-whores needed to be stopped.

I was reminded of how much heat skateboarders took when that craze started hitting the streets. Apparently it was okay to join a group of kids and pursue an activity but going out and doing it ON YOUR OWN IN PUBLIC was beyond the pale.

So I am a bit ashamed of the knee-jerk conservatism that I was espousing.

Imagine my surprise when I finally watched the movie "Jackass". Melody was bartending and I was in NYC for a few days visiting. The bar had a downstairs private room with a TV and VCR. Yes, vcr. The only tape? "Jackass".

I figured I should watch this piece of trash. An hour and a half later I was exhausted from crying and laughing and recoiling in horror. They changed my mind entirely that night.

Human beings love to witness acts of bravery. We re-tell them, we fictionalize them, we invent them in order to shine a spotlight on the best facet of human behavior. Our willingness to ignore peril if need be.

The image of the firefighter rushing into a burning building is the perfect example. An act like that reassures us that we are NOT simply beasts, that we have a higher level of morality, that we can operate heroically INSIDE of fear. In fact, this might be one of our defining characteristics. Animals do amazing things in response to danger but they don't have the same knowledge of mortality that we do.

I find there to be a deep beautiful philosophy at work in the "Jackass" catalog. And I am one-hundred-percent serious.

They isolate that characteristic - the human ability to face grave danger with aplomb and they REMOVE THE CONTEXT FROM IT. I find this to be endlessly fascinating.

In "Jackass 3", Johnny Knoxville does a stunt called "Invisible Man" in which he is painted to fit perfectly into a mural of a rainbow spread across a field with a tree in it. Knoxville stands in front of the mural and the camera is lined up so that he essentially disappears.

A bull is then let loose into the corral. The hope is that he will be "invisible". But of course, the bull isn't perfectly lined up like the camera. Bulls can't see color. Knoxville is a sitting duck. He successfully evades a goring but then the bull sneaks around the back of the mural and roars out at Knoxville. He leaps to avoid the bull but the bull rams his legs, sending Knoxville head over heels into the mud, receiving a nice kick in the head for his trouble.

As Knoxville is standing there and hoping against hope that the bull will not see him, his fear is palpable. The charming thing about all of the "Jackass" crew is that they allow us to see their fear. They don't hide it with false bravado like so many of the youtube pretenders who intentionally hurt themselves for attention.

And that is why I can occasionally find myself very moved while watching instead of just horrified or grossed-out. It is as if they are showing us that we don't have to be so afraid of pain, that we are stronger than we think.

If you transplant these staged stunts into real life, a whole layer of respect and admiration would come into play. A man was inadvertently left in a corral and withstood a brutal bull charge! The strength! Two members of a marching band were attacked by a ram! The trumpet player distracted the ram from the tuba player who was almost unconscious on the ground!

Meaningless bravery.

And total acceptance of your friends. There is a running gag in "Jackass 3" called "Rocky" in which Bam Margera sneaks up on someone from behind. He throws water at one side of their face to distract them and punches them from the other with a boxing glove.

Do fights ensue? No! The person rolls around on the ground in pain for a while and then they laugh and hug.

I know it sounds stupid but for me, it accentuates how capable we are of forgiveness, how willing we are as human beings to incorporate flaws into our relationships. The acceptance of these ambushes is very telling.

My favorite portion of "Jackass 3" comes when we see Ryan Dunn sitting in a comfy leather chair in a re-enactment of the famous speaker ad. He seems to be in a comfortable living room. The air from the speaker becomes so intense that he is actually blown from the chair. We then see that the "speaker noise" is being generated by the tail end of a jet airplane which is about 30 feet from Dunn.

He is blown across the airfield. He attempts to get up. He is blown further back. He is blown along the ground for several yards. He struggles to position himself so that he can even attempt to stand up. After a few agonizing moments he achieves upright status. But it is clearly taking every ounce of his will to do so.

After that massive effort to stand up, what does he do?

He jumps into the air so that he will be hurled backwards again. Because he knows it will make his friends laugh. What I was left with was the image of a small creature buffeted about by a force impossibly greater than its own. And that creature didn't crawl away in disgrace. He got up time and again to continue to face it. And tried to get a laugh doing it.

Consider me a jackass.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Too Late For Stitches

So I sliced my finger open at the Hollywood Bowl while waiting for Dolly Parton to come on stage to do the second half of her incredible concert. I was attempting to use a bottle opener to pry a bottlecap off of a large Stella Artois. The cap took a layer of glass with it and my finger met this jagged terminus in a lusty embrace.

I moseyed on down to the First Aid Center beneath the Bowl. A drunken older female fan who could never have gotten away with the length of her skirt anywhere else in the world was up on a table while a nice EMT dabbed her bleeding knee with Hydrogen peroxide. Her daughter paced outside the room on a cell phone in an even smaller outfit. One too young, one too old for their respective skirts.

My EMT was a burly guy who gently daubed at the cut, told me I should go to an Urgent Care facility for stitches, and then told me that HE wouldn't go if the same thing happened to him. So I let him wrap the cut and I headed back up to my seat.

Melody was waiting, worried.

Dolly was transcendent, playing about 10 different instruments, cracking jokes left and right, and pouring her heart out in song.

Cut to a couple of days later and I begin to be convinced that there is still glass in the cut. My doctor reassured me that there was not. But when I asked if I needed stitches, she said, "Oh no, it's too late for stitches."

This statement has been bouncing around in my brain ever since I heard it. It seems apropos in all areas of my life. I am healing. I ought to have sought help earlier than I did. Therefore, I will heal from the damage the best I can.

I am not viewing this in a negative way. It is really a jolt of gratitude that is prominent in my thinking. Because how could I ever wish for a different life than the one I've got? To trade even the darkest of detail for some unknown lighter possibility is to deny the brightest of the bright spots that I have had access to. And that is simply not honorable.

So yes, it is too late for stitches. Yes, I let injury go untreated. But like Dolly at the Bowl, what a show I've gotten to see.

Earth, I love ya, babe.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I Have Tried To Remain Positive

But man, do I hate Janis Joplin. And Van Morrison.

Monday, April 4, 2011

April Fail's Day 2011

Every April Fool's Day I get my sister Siobhan with some crazy notion. Over the years I have convinced her that the Yankees were moving to New Jersey, that I'd played a private gig jamming with The Replacements' drummer, and in a prank I regret because it worried her, I claimed I had a broken foot and I needed her to come to Los Angeles immediately to drive me around for the next month. She's such a good sister, she agreed on a MOMENT'S NOTICE!

After that one I vowed that my pranks would never be sad or scary again.

But for the past couple of years she has been impervious. I would call her and she would answer the phone already on the defensive..."What? What is it, Bren? What do you have to tell me? What's goin' on???"

I'd almost given up hope.

Then, last October, I had a flash, the kind that all the great geniuses talk about. I saw the whole thing laid out before me. It was like being able to tell the future!

In five minutes I had the whole plan.

Immediately I contacted Nate Shelkey, an old friend of the O'Malley family. Nate and Siobhan went to James Madison University together and have remained close friends. Nate was to be crucial to my plan.

I laid out my dastardly plot to him and he jumped on board. I will now be cutting and pasting from a succession of emails between Nate and I about emails he sent to Siobhan...

Email # 1

November 16, 2010

"I am auditioning for a feature directed by some hotshot kid who went to JMU. He is a sports fan and saw my Santa ESPN thing and asked his manager to find me. What a coincidence, huh? He has only been out here six months but his short films got him a studio job directing a supernatural thriller. I audition next week...psyched."

Nate paraphrased a bit from that paragraph which I instructed him to send. He was worried that she might ask what the guy's name was but, and later this would seem like a sign that we'd missed, she merely took the information in as par for the course in Nate's busy burgeoning acting career.

Email Trail # 2

December 3, 2010

nate shelkey wrote:

it is done!

On Mon, Nov 29, 2010 at 3:47 PM, wrote:


In this email you will DOWNPLAY your excitement at the callback because it is such a big part and your agent/manager said names might be attached.

The film is not yet titled but it entails a desperate man's search for a shadowy figure from his past. Feel free to elaborate on the horror/suspense acting you are working on for your callback which happens at the end of this week.

Now that she hasn't asked the name of the director you can concentrate on the MOVIE instead of the fact that the guy is from JMU.

Embellish however you see fit keeping in mind that we will be shooting some of what you write.

Somewhere in December Nate actually saw Siobhan in New York City...the big callback in his career was not discussed.

My theory in the next phase was that we would wait until March to continue the lie. This is what Nate wrote to Siobhan that day...

Email # 3

March 8, 2011

Two exciting bits o' news.

#1 I booked my first co-star! It's for Chuck. I play a Super Shuttle Driver. It shoots next week and it is a very funny little scene. Should be fun! I'm totally excited!

#2 Remember that movie I was telling you about? Well, I got that part and we finished shooting. I wasn't really allowed to say anything about it before. But it looks like they are gonna give me some footage so I can put it on my reel before the whole thing is done. I really wanna update my reel so I can hopefully get some sort
of agent interest while pilot season is still going on!

I can't wait to show you my big scene. It should be pretty cool---I still am sort of nervous about it because I've been used to doing comedy so long that I am a little rusty on serious acting! Yeesh. You'll have to let me know what you think!

Now in the meantime, Nate, Cousin Timothy, and I got together at the office where I work (as of next Monday I'm moving on though, after 4 years, post coming on that whole big thing) and we shot for a couple of hours.

We then met the next weekend to edit it at Nate's apartment.

The final product was ready and waiting.

Final Email (or so we thought)

March 31, 2011 (8:55PM sent)

Nate Wrote:

Okay, here we go. Exciting! Here is a clip that they gave me for my reel. It's a rough cut but this is basically the beginning of the movie. Does it seem good enough for like something dramatic?

Razing The Bar

Let me know what you think.

Please take a moment to watch the video before we continue on with the post. It is just over 3 minutes long.

Are you back? You can see how the joke would play out, right??? She's been hearing about this movie for almost 6 months and finally when she watches it, there is ME, ACTUALLY SAYING THE WORDS "APRIL" AND "FOOL".

Can't miss, right???


Siobhan emailed Nate saying, "Looks great! Good film quality!"

She clearly had not watched the whole thing! She must have seen a portion of it and then moved on, as we all do with the myriad things people send us to watch. We enlisted Siobhan's fiance Ben to help hammer the point home.

Nate posted the clip to Ben's wall and Siobhan's wall on Facebook.

Hours later? She "liked" it. NO REACTION!!! WHAT THE HELL WAS GOING ON???

Ben frantically texted me that I needed to check my email. Okay, maybe he wasn't frantic but I was by this point.

I checked my email. This is what Ben wrote to me...

Email # 37 (uncounted emails between Nate and I wondering how the plan could have gone wrong)

April 3, 2011

Got home, asked if she'd watched this video Nate posted on my wall, she said, "yeah, I watched it." Boom.

So, quite a bit later, I sat down next to her, started watching w/ volume off, and laughed loudly when you came on. She asked why i was laughing, i said, "Did you watch the whole thing from Nate? B/c something really funny just happened." So I started it over, put the laptop in her lap, and videoed her watching the thing, TOTALLY ENJOYING IT, AND NOT GETTING THE JOKE! I even said, after, "were you surprised Brendan was in it?" And, "If it was for Nate's 'serious' reel, it seemed pretty goofy." But no, she said--no problem--the serious part before you came in could all be used for the reel. Oh, and how great Tim participated, too.

So--no fucking idea what comes next! But as much as I was almost giggling, and probably also looking amazed throughout the whole thing, she doesn't know anything yet. So we can keep trying. But I don't know how...

I'd finally had enough. I called up and demanded to speak with Siobhan.

I explained the whole thing to her and she kept saying, "You did all that?" But the joke had never landed.

Or, it did land, but right on top of me. Siobhan had finally gotten me back.

April Fail's Day!!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Back From Bogota!

So Bogota was gorgeous and I made some great new friends and I experienced a completely different culture first hand and I had a brand new work experience unlike any I've ever gone through before. A slam dunk of a trip.

All that being said, it was good to get home and see Melody and Cashel and sit around and relax with them. It seems as if Cash got taller in the week I was gone. I told him to stop it!

549. Dedicated Follower Of Fashion - The Kinks from 'The Ultimate Collection (Disc 1)'

While I love The Kinks, this song is sort of nasty. It seems to be poking fun at a guy who loves fashion and underneath the whole song is a current of homophobia. Very catchy but mean.

550. It's Only Love That Gets You Through - Sade from 'Lovers Rock'

She is effortless. It is as if every sound you hear is coming directly out of her psyche, perfectly expressing some previously inarticulate need that had been etched over time into a multi-faceted diamond of tears, kisses, hurts, triumphs, and loss.

551. Grace - Jeff Buckley from 'Grace'

Pipes. Total pipes.

552. Murder Suicide Meteor Slave - Jeff Buckley from 'Sketches For My Sweetheart The Drunk'

Odd that the iPod would jump to another Buckley song but one from the unfinished vault of material he was working on when he died. He seems to be deliberately avoiding the kind of effortless beauty of the first album and the strain of that effort is all I can hear. On this whole sprawling album of strange material there is not one song I come away humming, as opposed to every song on 'Grace'. That isn't necessarily a negative, I enjoy antagonistic melody as much as the next post-punk but when you can break a heart like Jeff Buckley you might want to go for it.

553. Tell Your Granddad - Jesse Grieves from 'Colonial Box'

My friend Justin has been recording music since we were teenagers, sometimes we would record together, sometimes he would do it on his own. This particular song he played for me one lost afternoon at his house out in the middle of nowhere and it still makes me laugh to this day.

Tell your Granddad I love his daughter
Tell your Mother she should be a little calmer
Because I'm coming for her
But I'll take you


554. Do You Want To Know A Secret - The Beatles from 'Please Please Me'

Pristine and perfect.

555. Enchanting Transylvania - Lenny Bruce from 'The Lenny Bruce Originals - Volume 1'

Again, impossible to explain. Just buy any live Lenny Bruce recordings you can find. You will not be sorry.

556. Rock Monsieur - Rock Failair from 'Boris Vian Et Ses Interpretes'

The joke here is that a 'croque monsieur' is a sandwich much like a grilled cheese. Get it? Rock Monsiuer? Mr. Rock? Poor poor French rockers.

557. Hain's Point - Rites Of Spring from 'End On End'

Again, the songs are forgettable but the sound and the delivery is so impassioned that it truly doesn't matter. Total commitment.

558. Trouble With Dreams - Eels from 'Live At Town Hall'

Life must be hard for a guy who has developed such a following that he can sell out Town Hall and gather them together to bum them out all at once.

559. The Heart Of Saturday Night - Tom Waits from 'The Heart Of Saturday Night'

No rasp, no engine blocks dressed up to sound like harpsichords, no creaking doors played in the key of E minor...just a great song sung really well.

560. Been A Son - Nirvana from 'Incesticide'

Killer melody. I remember getting this album and discovering Eugenius aka Captain America through the song 'Molly's Lips' and everything else on there pales in comparison. Still great, though.

561. Hypnotise - The White Stripes from 'Elephant'

I'm sorry, I had to duck under my desk to avoid the rampaging hype.

562. Message To The Boys - The Replacements from 'Don't You Know Who I Think I Was'

When The Replacements were putting together a batch of remixes and bonus tracks to be simultaneously released, the three living original members (Westerberg, Tommy Stinson, Chris Mars) got together and recorded two new songs to go along with it. This is one of 'em and it is a load of fun.

563. Holier Than Thou - Metallica from 'Black Album'

This is not a load of fun. Great, but fun? No.

564. Autumn Leaves - Rob Wasserman/Rickie Lee Jones from 'Duets'

You know what is most annoying about 'Autumn Leaves'? When they get wet they smell like shit. And when they are dry they blow away.

565. Son - Deconstruction from 'Deconstruction'

Dave Navarro organized this project right after Jane's Addiction first imploded and I think it is a very interesting album. Not sure to this day why I bought it seeing as I was not a Jane's Addiction fan but whenever I hear a song from it I am glad I own it.

566. Last Exit - Pearl Jam from 'Vitalogy'

I know Eddie Vedder has farted in his life and it probably was funny. I know he must have cracked a joke in his life and it probably was funny. There are four or five other members of the band who must have done at least one funny thing in their lives at one point or another.

Strange, but not ONE of those moments has ever made it onto an album. Heads up, Jam, life is FUN.

567. Carry That Weight - The Beatles from 'Abbey Road'

Pearl Jam could take a hint from these guys who on one album side introduced us to Mean Mr. Mustard and Polythene Pam.

568. THE FAT SHIT! - Poppa Foxtrot 'Single'

I rest my case for funny music.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Massive Bogota Shuffle

Please pardon the down time between posts but I've had quite a time of it these past few weeks. By this time tomorrow I'll be headed to Bogota for a great gig and I've been hunkered down making sure I feel ready to roll. And I do.

Plus I've had a hard time keeping the iPod charged enough to type in my shuffle lists. What has been happening is I'll do a shuffle, get to work, scroll back to type in all the songs and by the time I've done that the battery has shit the proverbial bed.

So today, to make sure I post something before I head off to South America for the first time in my life (one of the many firsts this work trip is affording me), I brought the damn iPod charger with me. The following list is a huge one, a shuffle that has been going since sometime last week.

I won't blame you if you scroll through and pick and choose. There are times since I started this crazy project (i.e. reviewing every single song on my iPod, 6,973 to be exact, hope you plan on reading me until 2017) when I wish I could skip over certain songs, albums, whole genres. But I'm sticking to my self-imposed guns.

422. The Wedge - Dick Dale from King of The Surf Guitar: The Best Of Dick Dale

As a member of that vast six string fraternity I bow in reverence and homage to our house president, the man who has organize and scored so many sweet parties, drawing hot babes from all walks of life into our humble frat house, taking their occasionally reluctant feet and hearts and setting them to dance so that they might shake off their collegiate inhibitions and maybe flash us their tits.

423. Swanee River - Django Reinhardt from 'The Art Of The Jazz Guitar'

After having graduated from the awesome though perhaps more low-brow Dick Dale Academy and enrolling in graduate school in the Django Reinhardt School Of You'll-Never-Be-As-Good-As-Me-And-I-Only-Have-Three-Fingers Jazz Playing, the tendency is sometimes to throw your five-fingered inadequacies up in the air and simply say, "Why the hell do I even bother when cats like this can destroy me with their eyes closed and two fewer digits???' But ultimately inspiration prevails and you happily settle into your low status as a six-stringer.

424. Cathedral - Van Halen from 'Diver Down'

And then Eddie Van Halen says, "Why did you ever even go to college you kiss ass? I quit high school and listen to how I can play!"

425. O Girlfriend - Weezer from 'Weezer (Green Album)'

When Weezer open it up and let it pour out in sincerity and heartfelt emotion, there is no one better. When it is Rivers Cuomo testing out his math theories through songwriting exercises that involve throwing darts at topics and mixing them up with a formula that he was working on when he was at Harvard, not so much. This is thankfully from the first category. There is such a thing as being too smart for your own good.

426. God Damn King Kong - Pimp Fu/Bomer-B from 'Brooklyn Basement Tapes'

This is actually a cut on Pimp Fu's 'Coffe, Pot' classic but I'll also be including it on some future is the first thing that Timothy and I ever recorded together so it is impossibly precious to me.

It took us a couple of hours. Timothy laid down the beat first to accompany the title that I had had in my head for ten years. Then we each wrote a couple bars to match the number of stanzas to the beat. Then I recorded an electric guitar track to mimic the zip-zip of a turntable being scratched and a melodic acoustic part to give it some melody.

Up there with my favorite artistic output ever.

427. Stomping Grounds - Fecund Youth from 'Branded: Hung Like A Bull'

That iPod must be thinking about my career retrospective! Tom DeVincke and I had been writing songs for a couple of months when he challenged me to write better lyrics. I'd basically been moping about some girl or five and being the dyed-in-the-wool punk rocker that he is, Tom felt that I ought to write about "something that matters". Now, I'm not saying these lyrics are worthy of the Nobel Peace prize but that little push sent me into much more complex territory. This impresses me about Tom to this day. That he would have the thought and express it.

428. Better Living Through Chemistry - Queens Of The Stone Age from 'Rated R'

Makes me want to be out at Joshua Tree at sunset around a fire with a bale of marijuana blazing away just over the hill so I can feel better about catching a contact high.

429. Disappearing Act - Ron Sexsmith from 'Cobblestone Runway'

I've been humming this song since I heard it again. This guy is the real deal and this is a killer tune.

430. Winter - Bebel Gilberto from 'Bebel Gilberto'


431. Kill You - Eminem from 'The Marshall Mathers LP'


432. If I Fell - The Beatles from 'A Hard Day's Night'


433. Suicide Doors - Jack Logan from 'Mood Elevator'

How this guy slipped through the cracks back into obscurity is a major shame. His story is a fascinating one. Look him up sometime.

434. Disappearer - Sonic Youth from 'Goo'

Every now and then Sonic Youth inexplicably become the sexiest band on earth. I still don't understand why or how but it happens.

435. Madrin Rain - The Pogues from 'Hell's Ditch'

Great album produced by Joe Strummer. Shane McGowan sounds like a MESS. It's a wonder that guy is still alive.

436. Promises - Fugazi from '13 Songs'

This album went off like a bomb in the hardcore punk world and had all sorts of idiots screaming "SELL OUT" which in retrospect is hilarious.

437. Penitentiary - Ice Cube from 'War & Peace Volume 1 (The War Disc)'


438. You Brought A New Kind Of Love To Me - Frank Sinatra from 'Songs For Swingin' Lovers'

When Frank put this album out it was sort of a game changer, for his career as well as for the concept of the album in general. It was a cohesive unit, not just a random collection of songs. It was designed to be a single artistic achievement thematically, sonically, emotionally. This has sort of been lost in the shuffle of the magnitude of Ol' Blue Eyes career but he basically invented THE ALBUM.

439. Bullet The Blue Sky - U2 from 'Joshua Tree'

Bono thinks he is emoting with all his grunts and overbearing sighs but he just sounds constipated. Take some kaopectate and just sing, please.

440. Damned If I Do - The Artist Formerly Known As Prince from 'Emancipation (Disc 1)'

More excellence from the most bizarre superstar on the face of the earth.

441. Mannish Boy - Muddy Waters from 'Goodfellas (Soundtrack)'

What is there to say?

442. Love Me Do - The Beatles from 'Please Please Me'


443. The World May Never Know - Dr. Dog from 'Easy Beat'

Silly but forgettable.

444. Let's Stay Together - Al Green from 'Al Green - Greatest Hits'

If Al Green were starting out today, he'd be given some stupid name like AG or Greenback, or Money Man or some shit. Thankfully he started when he did and he's just Al Green.

445. New Fast Fucky - Soul Side from 'Soon - Come - Happy'

Sonically very interesting but the songs are just not quite as unique and memorable as the sound itself.

446. Neighborhood # 3 (Power Out) - Arcade Fire from 'Funeral'

I hope Paul Haggis brings these losers down too.

447. Come On Nature - The Proclaimers from 'Sunshine On Leith'

Ah, now that's a song, that's a band, these bespectacled geeks are MONSTERS. Song MONSTERS.

448. Dirt To Mud - Paul Westerberg from 'Stereo'

Speaking of monster, I'm working on a large post chronicling Paul Westerberg's solo career which has, to my mind, become far more interesting than that band he was in back in the day.

449. Crosseyed And Painless - Talking Heads from 'Sand In The Vaseline (Disc 1)'

Still not sure what all the fuss is about. It's very very good, don't get me wrong, and when I watch 'Stop Making Sense' it is clear that the live essence is monstrous but the catalog just leaves me a little flat.

450. Tell You Why Tomorrow - Husker Du from 'Warehouse: Songs And Stories'

The more I hear of Husker Du the more I think that if they'd actually gotten a real drummer and put Grant Hart out front with Bob Mould with an electric guitar they would have been UNSTOPPABLE. His drumming is just not good. The sound on it is muffled, there is no definition to it, it drags the songs down. I know this is a kind of blasphemy but I gotta say it. His songs? Top notch. His singing? Heartbreaking. His drumming? Amateur hour.

451. Give Judy My Notice - Ben Folds from 'Songs For Silverman'

Thank you Ben for taking my heart out of my chest, slicing it up into a million crying pieces, dicing it in a blender laced with acid, putting it in a beautiful martini glass and somehow making it taste like the greatest cocktail I've ever had.

452. (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais - The Clash from 'Story Of The Clash Volume 1 (Disc 2)'

The Clash.

453. Bad Boy - Backbeat Band from 'Backbeat Original Soundtrack'

Almost the Beatles.

454. Drink Deep - Rites Of Spring from 'End On End'

They were really onto something. There is some indescribable element of release and emotional output that Rites Of Spring dove after and achieved. I couldn't hum a song but whenever they come on it is almost embarrassing, like reading someone's diary.

455. Rite Of Passage - Onion from 'Beauty Is Ordinary'

Good tune.

456. Street Spirit (Fade Out) - Radiohead from 'The Bends'

Before they were great.

457. Born To Run - Bruce Springsteen from 'Born To Run'

Sometimes I can't help it and he just makes me roll my eyes. I like him when he isn't so sure of himself.

458. You're A Soldier - Husker Du from 'Warehouse: Songs And Stories'

Again with the subpar drumming.

459. Under The Cherry Moon - Prince from 'Parade'

This is perhaps the most sophisticated pop album ever made. It is a highlight of human creation.

460. Trans Am - Neil Young & Crazy Horse from 'Sleeps With Angels'

A whole album in response to being tagged in Cobain's suicide note, this one equates a failing muscle car with the American dream. Genius.

461. Get The Fuck Outta Dodge - Public Enemy from 'Apocalypse 91...The Enemy Strikes Black'

Yes sir.

462. Bookmark - Paul Westerberg from 'Suicaine Gratifaction'

Um, if anyone else recorded this it would merit a whole section in the massively watched documentary made about them by Ken Burns.

463. Steady Diet - Fugazi from 'Steady Diet Of Nothing'

464. Long Division - Fugazi from 'Steady Diet Of Nothing'

Two in a row from what I consider to be a classic. Not even Fugazi fans agree with me and I love that.

465. Ain't So Easy - David & David from 'Welcome To The Boomtown'

No, it ain't. Now that I've been in the Boomtown for almost 10 years, no, it ain't easy.

466. Ikebana - Kevin Shields from 'Lost In Translation'


467. Mt. Pleasant - The Evens from 'The Evens'

The follow up to Fugazi with Ian and his wife making music on a smaller scale. Endearing but not all that engaging.

468. Accidents Will Happen - Elvis Costello & The Attractions from 'Armed Forces (Bonus Tracks)'

When you hear the tracks of his that didn't get chosen you start to get a sense that this guy will never be properly appreciated.

469. Morning Bell - Radiohead from 'Kid A'

Ouch. This one hurts very deeply.

470. Eyes Like Sparks - Grandpaboy from 'Mono'

One line. One guy in a basement. Again, come back for my monster post about Paul Westerberg and his various aliases.

471. Airline To Heaven - Billy Bragg & Wilco from 'Mermaid Avenue, Vol. 2'

Only interesting not transcendent like everything on Vol. 1.

472. Tonight The Heartache's On Me - Dixie Chicks from 'Wide Open Spaces'


473. My Bionic Eyes - Liz Phair from 'Liz Phair'


474. 37 Yeti - Pimp Fu from 'Coffee, Pot'

So funny. There is actually a yeti making noise in this sound. Not sure how he recorded a Yeti in our Brooklyn basement in the summer.

475. Man In Need - Richard & Linda Thompson from 'Shoot Out The Lights'

Way underrated even if it is on all the best all time lists.

476. Girl You Have No Faith In Medicine - The White Stripes from 'Elephant'

Boy I Do Not Care About This Band.

477. Bobo In The Corner - The Beastie Boys from 'Ill Communication'

There were a few years there when these guys could do no wrong.

478. Dachau Blues - Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band from 'Trout Mask Replica'

I remember reading Rolling Stone's list of the top 100 albums of all time when I was in high school. I was shocked that I had never even heard of a few of them. This was one of them. So later when Columbia Records And Tapes was emptying out their vaults and basically destroying the record business without even knowing it, I picked this disc up. Colossally strange and amazing. This song in particular is deeply disturbing.

479. Kooks - David Bowie from 'Bowie At The Beeb (Disc 1)'


480. Ed's Song - Emmitt Swimming from 'Wake'

Thank you, Justin.

481. Closing Time - Lyle Lovett from 'Lyle Lovett'

Before I stopped caring.

482. Nocturne No. 1 - Joe Jackson from 'Night Music'

Very sophisticated and suave.

483. Alligator Wine - Screamin' Jay Hawkins from 'Voodoo Jive: The Best Of Screamin' Jay Hawkins'

Bonkers. Truly bonkers.

484. Let's Pretend We're Married - Prince from '1999'

Sometimes Prince lets you into his thinking and he reminds you that teenage boys have NO IDEA what women like.

485. Summer's Cauldron - XTC from 'Skylarking'

This is one of those perfect albums and this is a highlight. Apparently they hated Todd Rundgren but, guys, the proof is in the pudding. Everyone agrees this is your best album ever. Put your pride down and give the man some props.

486. There's No Home For You Here - The White Stripes from 'Elephant'

There's No Song For Me Here.

487. The Ultimate Shit - Pimp Fu from 'Raw Fushi...t'


488. I Took A Trip On A Gemini Spaceship - David Bowie from 'Heathen'

To hear the change from the Bowie-Live-At-The-Beeb Bowie to this Bowie is simply astonishing. This isn't even a highly regarded album of his but man, I love it.

489. Mesmerizing - Liz Phair from 'Exile In Guyville'

Yes, yes, Liz, yes, you are.

490. Big City After Dark - Link Wray from 'Rumble! The Best Of Link Wray'

Every one of these songs is like a soundtrack to one of those propaganda films they used to show in the '50's to scare teenagers into staying straight, not putting each other's private parts together, and combing and cutting their hair on a regular basis. When they hear just a snatch of Link Wray they go INSANE.

491. The Max - Prince & The New Power Generation from 'O(+>'

Sing it Purple Yoda.

492. Ipanema Girl - Dirty Worxxx from 'The New Brazilian Sound'


493. I Got The Feelin' - James Brown from '20 All Time Greatest Hits!'

I do too, James. I do too.

494. This Bitter Earth - Banderas from 'Postcards From America'


495. Body Of Water - Billy Bragg from 'Don't Try This At Home'

The more I hear this album the less I like it. Sorry Billy.

496. King Of The Mountain - Midnight Oil from 'Blue Sky Mining'


497. Computer Blue - Prince from 'Purple Rain'


498. You Shook Me All Night Long - AC/DC from 'Back In Black'

It's like this band embodies some vast plain of rock, they are Gods of the rocky plain which stretches in all directions and is empty and vast but somehow peopled by screaming headbangers.

499. Crows In The Wheatfield - Del Amitri from 'Del Amitri'

Ah Del Amitri. You should have really made it. Like last forever made it.

500. You're Getting To Be A Habit With Me - Diana Krall from 'Love Scenes'

Every time I hear this bitch open her mouth I picture her standing two inches away from a mirror staring at herself and blowing herself kisses. I can hear the acceptance speeches in her singing. GET OVER YOURSELF.

501. Ding Da Ding Ding - Pimp Fu from 'First Press'

Creepy and silent.

502. Bedlam Bridge - Midnight Oil from 'Blue Sky Mining'

More greatness from these down under geeks.

503. Bananeira - Bebel Gilberto from 'Tanto Tiempo'

Sexy!!! Did I say that about Bebel already? Sexy music.

504. Hair Pie: Bake 2 - Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band from 'Trout Mask Replica'

More absolute conundrums from Van Vliet & Co.

505. Plastic & Concrete - Iggy Pop from 'American Caesar'

Hey Grandpa, take a nap.

506. Betcha By Golly Wow! - The Artist Formerly Known As Prince from 'Emancipation (Disc 1)'

This album was the beginning of the new beginning of the end of the beginning of the end for the guy who used to be Prince and then was a symbol and then was formerly known as but soon would be back to being Prince. And it is great.

507. Shooting Dirty Pool - The Replacements from 'Pleased To Meet Me'

This is one that all Replacements fans seem to agree is a clunker but I love it. It is dirty and a gamble just like the title suggests.

508. Safety Dance - Jaymz Bee's Royal Jelly Orchestra from 'Cocktail: Shakin' And Stirred'

Sometimes I want to hear kitsch. Other times I don't.

509. Politik - Coldplay from 'A Rush of Blood To The Head'

Don't get me wrong, I like these guys. But I get the impression that they try to come up with weighty complex sounding titles (i.e. Politik) for songs that ought to be named "Gosh, I Miss Her" or "I Really Miss Her" or "Today I Thought I'd Miss Her But I'm Thinking About You Instead - What Do You Think That Means?"

510. A Tous Les Enfants - Joan Baez from 'Boris Vian Et Ses Interpretes'

Ever since watching the Bob Dylan documentary I can't help but feel my hackles rise whenever I hear this self-important blowhard open her mouth. You really thought you and Bob Dylan could CHANGE the world? And you were disappointed that all he wanted to do was MAKE GREAT MUSIC??? No wonder he left your boring ass.

511. Chloroform - Jack Logan from 'Bulk (Disc 1)'

More greatness from our Refrigerator Mechanic Laureate.

512. Belladonna - Ebatule from 'The New Brazilian Sound'

Okay, getting tired of slinky sexy South American music which is ironic because I'm going to Bogota, Colombia tomorrow!

513. Bad Moon Rising - Creedence Clearwater Revival from 'Chronicle, Vol. 1'

Cousins Liam, Mike and I recently decided that CCR is the only appropriate choice for greatest American rock band of all time.

514. Between Love & Like - Grandpaboy from 'Mono'

Massive Westerberg post coming...

515. Warm Fuzzy Feeling - Fastball from 'All The Pain Money Can Buy'

This one falls flat, guys, sorry.

516. Imagination - The Rolling Stones from 'Some Girls'

This album is out of control.

517. Dolphin - The Artist Formerly Known As Prince from 'The Gold Experience'

Hey, Prince, you know what? Why don't you go on national TV and show us your assless chaps?

518. Picture In A Frame - Tom Waits from 'Mule Variations'

Great ballad.

519. All The Critics Love U In New York - Prince from '1999'

Why this song works so well I'll never know.

520. Someday After A While - Eric Clapton from 'From The Cradle'


521. Slap Me On The Ass - Pimp Fu from 'Raw Fushi...t'

Hilarious. Will someone let him slap them on the ass already?

522. Hell Ain't A Bad Place To Be - AC/DC from 'If You Want Blood You've Got It (Live)'

No it ain't.

523. Makin' Whoopee - Frank Sinatra from 'Songs For Swingin' Lovers'

Again, a cut from perhaps the first concept album.

524. Frozen Lake - Buffalo Tom from 'Let Me Come Over'

This album is the perfect line between their acoustic flavored last few albums and the distorted fuzz rock of their first few. Great album.

525. When The Whip Comes Down - The Rolling Stones from 'Some Girls'


526. Boom Boom - John Lee Hooker from 'Very Best Of'


527. About A Girl - Nirvana from 'Bleach'

Man, you can really hear the impending departure of this lame drummer.

528. So What - John Cale from 'Walking On Locusts'

So what indeed, John. Don't name your song 'So What' unless you want someone to say so what about it.

529. Shambala - The Beastie Boys from 'Ill Communication'

The mystical lost city...which people are currently chasing in Thomas Pynchon's 'Against The Day' which I am re-reading...

530. We March - The Artist Formerly Known As Prince from 'The Gold Experience'

Oh, so the assless chap reveal wasn't enough now you think you are gonna get political on us? We March? About what? Your right to wear pants that have no ass on them?

531. Everyone Says "Hi" - David Bowie from 'Heathen'


532. Tell Kim I Said Hi - Elemenopy from 'Sgt. Walrus's Westward Journey - Volume 1'

Weird, first David Bowie says that everyone says hi and then these kooks are asking us to say hi for them. Patterns abound.

533. Complexity - The Roots from 'Phrenology'

How crazy is it that The Roots are on national TV every night with Fallon? I still get happy about that...

534. Bullroarer - Midnight Oil from 'Diesel And Dust'

Outrage and melody.

535. What You Want - Pimp Fu from 'Shocker'

I want more Pimp Fu music.

536. Cheap Reward - Elvis Costello from 'My Aim Is True'

Little known gem.

537. Bed Of Nails - Husker Du from 'Warehouse: Songs And Stories'


538. Mary - Sublime from 'Robbin' The Hood'

When you are all strung out you have no standards. You can obviously still have talent but you just don't know what is good anymore.

539. How High The Moon Ella Fitzgerald from 'The Very Best Of Ella (Disc 1)'

After listening to Diana "I LOVE MYSELF" Krall, it is nice to hear a master. Although I can't hear two and a half minutes of scat singing with all the "dwi-bi-dooop-bwadda-mipmip-zuangalooooooooo". Like, sing the fucking words already.

540. Ngicueala - Es Una Historia - I Am Singing - Stevie Wonder from 'Songs In The Key Of Life (Disc 2)'


541. Mountains Of Your Head - Buffalo Tom from 'Let Me Come Over'

Good but still bored.

542. Mansion On The Hill - Neil Young & Crazy Horse from 'Ragged Glory'

Oh man, this is the sound of a bunch of killer musicians out in the middle of nowhere in a big barn with every piece of equipment that they need and boatloads of inspiration and fury.

543. I Got You (I Feel Good) - James Brown from '20 All Time Greatest Hits!'

You forget about him until he starts singing and then you realize that he is still better than everybody else.

544. Neon Meate Dream Of A Octafish - Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band from 'Trout Mask Replica'

What is with the Beefheart???

545. My Friend Of Misery - Metallica from 'Black Album'

His lyrics can be blush-inducing. Honestly. Terrible lyrics. Great song, though.

546. All Apologies - Nirvana from 'MTV Unplugged In New York'

Can you believe that MTV once had the clout to get their name on Nirvana's latest album? Can you imagine that happening today??? Lady Gaga's MTV Unplugged? NEVER WOULD HAPPEN.

547. Unwashed And Somewhat Slightly Dazed - David Bowie from 'Bowie At The Beeb (Disc 1)'

Go fuck yourself Bowie.

548. Taillights Fade - Buffalo Tom from 'Let Me Come Over'

This song is my 20's.

Okay. Thank god that's over. I'll be back in a week or so from Bogota!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Turning Points, Pointing Turns

There comes a moment after you've been working out for an extended period of time. On some uncertain day you realize that YOU are happening to the machines in the gym, not the other way around. What starts out as submission and acquiescence slowly and subtly transforms into power and execution.

A similar process occurs when you attack the aspects of your psyche that plague you. For what seems like eons you chip away at this formless barrier that traps you in unsatisfying poses. Then one day a tiny piece of marble drops off of the sculpture and a brand new pose is struck, an intended one, one that accurately expresses something instead of being the result of suppression.

So here I am with both physical and mental moments like I've just described happening. The best part about it is that these things only increase my motivation to keep my nose to the grindstone, to keep holding myself to these new standards that are rewarding me in so many ways.

387. Sunken Treasure - Wilco from 'Being There (Disc 2)'

Wilco stretch it out here and even though I keep having these knee-jerk "someone send Jeff Tweedy a psychic alarm clock and tell him to wake the hell up and get excited" responses, I also cannot deny that Wilco are in many ways without equal. I go through these phases where I reject work from artists I love and then have to double back and reassess my positions. Lately when I hear Wilco I am finding myself feeling like I have to write Mr. Tweedy and apologize to him for continuing to ask him to wake up. Maybe sleepy is where his genius lies.

388. Two-Headed Boy Part 2 - Neutral Milk Hotel from 'In The Aeroplane Over The Sea'

Speaking of genius, this album is a stunner. I keep forgetting that I have to buy everything that Neutral Milk Hotel has ever put out. Also to research them and find out who the hell they are because I came late to the party and only know the sound of these songs. They could be from Tunisia for all I know. Maybe it should stay that way.

389. The Nang, The Front, The Bush And The Shit - El-P from 'Fantastic Damage'

El-P is one of those pioneers who blazes a trail so unique to himself that it seems to grow over right behind him as he makes his way through the jungle. Hip-hop, yes. But El-P is to hip-hop as Chuck Pahlaniuk is to nursery rhymes or something. I don't know, this music is so relentlessly abrasive and gnarly that El-P to me has more in common with absurdist punk rock than he does with hip-hop. Let's put it this way. No one's really dancing to this stuff.

390. Here I Am (Come And Take Me) - Al Green from 'Al Green - Greatest Hits'

Al is just about to give all this up for the Lord. At least for a little while.

391. Turn Me Loose - Jaymz Bee's Royal Jelly Orchestra from 'Cocktail: Shakin' And Stirred'

This is my favorite track on this silly album. This colossally stupid song is given fantastic new life by the overblown lounge singer aesthetic and crack 10-piece band. You can hear the old rich white people eating filet mignon and bobbing their steak knives along with that beat, thinking that they are really cuttin' loose, can you dig? This is a supper club I never want to attend but I am so grateful to Jaymz Bee's for giving me a secret glimpse into this plastic little universe.

392. Broken Chairs - Built To Spill from 'Keep It Like A Secret'

Are secrets secrets if they are boring? Like, I'm going to keep a secret that I have an old Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf receipt in my wallet. Don't tell anyone! WHY THE HELL WOULD YOU TELL ANYONE??? These guys are flat out boring.

393. Just A Few Words - Patty Larkin from 'Regrooving The Dream'

Patty Larkin reminds me of a movie that is on the cusp of greatness but some small element holds it back JUST short of that line. Still very very good but somehow I find myself comparing her songs against some imaginary track she has cut that is better, that is truly great.

394. Chemical Cosh - The Fatima Mansions from 'Viva Dead Ponies (US Version)'

Have I mentioned that this obscure album is one of the greatest of all time? Does that freak you out the way it freaks me out? That something so transcendent and perfect could simply be lost in the shuffle, relegated to used CD bins and yard sales. I will spend the rest of my life championing this work. If you can, track it down and buy it.

395. Efil's God - Ells from 'Electro-Shock Blues'


396. Bluer Pastures - Dolly Parton from 'Little Sparrow'

Masterful. Simply perfect. I know there are people out there who have no idea that Dolly Parton is an all-time great. They need to get with the program.

397. Peaceful World - John Mellencamp from 'The Concert For New York (Disc 2)'

I get very uncomfortable listening to this album. I simply cannot help feeling vaguely disturbed at the collective energy going on. I do not mean to imply that there was anything untoward or misguided going on at this concert which gave a very injured city a giant emotional boost. But that very power is difficult to assimilate. It's like trying to feel good about lightning.

398. Last Year's Man - Leonard Cohen from 'The Best Of'

I do not know how he squeezes so much interest and drama out of three chords and a croak. But man, he pulls it off.

399. Built This Road - The Bennett Cale Project from 'Goodbye Kirkwood Drive'

This is a sweet love song from a friend of mine. Gorgeous acoustic guitar, a gently building melody...really pretty music.

400. Damn U - Prince & The New Power Generation from 'O(+>'

This is a fantastic song from a fantastic album. Prince has had so many eras in which he achieved distinct moments of pop culture domination. Who could forget the ass-less pants?

401. Georgia Lee - Tom Waits from 'Mule Variations'

Much like Wilco, I am finding myself continually having to re-evaluate my stated aversion to Mr. Waits. This is a heartbreak of a song with understated production and straightforward singing. Clearly a personal song, not clouded up by Waits layering in circus references or three-pack a day growling. Beautiful and haunting.

402. I Love Lucy (I'm The Piltdown Man) - Jesse Grieves from 'Colonial Box'

I can't remember the day Justin first played me this song but I'm pretty sure it was out on the turf farm that lay adjacent to his back yard. No one but Justin writes songs like this. Hilarious and disturbing at the same time.

403. Gassed & Stoked - Lou Reed from 'Magic & Loss'

I am neither, Lou. I am neither 'gassed' nor 'stoked' about you or your songs. There might be some 'loss' going on here but there is very little 'magic'. I wish I'd never bought this stupid album. I can barely tolerate you in Velvet Underground who I love so I have no idea why I took a flier on this collection. GET OVER YOURSELF. You and Eels can both GET OVER YOURSELVES.

404. Roulette Dares (The Haunt Of) - The Mars Volta from 'De-Loused In The Comatorium'

Holy shit these guys are on another plane. Listening to them is like being in some kind of maaster class...more like studying than rocking out. But then they go on these runs that are so magnificent that you let yourself get swept up in it. They defy classification, they strive for a kind of epic inexplicable dread. And they reach it.

405. The Mission - Jaylib from 'DJ Jazzy Jeff And Peanut Butter Wolf...'

I'm sorry, were you playing music? I zoned out there.

406. Good Bye, New York - Brendan O'Malley from 'Post Nuclear Live At Genghis Cohen'

I am embarrassed by this collection of recordings from a show I gave at Genghis Cohen. I still needed to have the epiphanies I described in opening this post and my performance is an odd mix of over-emoting and underplaying. Sorry, world. I'm much better now.

407. Philosophy - Ben Folds from 'Ben Folds Five'

Just great. Jean and I spent some time driving around the last time I was in Rhode Island listening to his collaboration with various vocal groups who recorded a cappella versions of his songs. Fantastic. I still remember hearing this album and being so glad that someone was finally playing the damn piano again.

408. I've Just Seen A Face - The Beatles from 'Help!'

Wow. It's amazing how you can forget these guys.

409. You Can't Kill Michael Molloy - Primus from 'Frizzle Fry'

Um, I think you can. Let me check. Yes, you CAN kill Michael Molloy. You do it with the "skip" button.

410. Shutup - The Replacements from 'Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out The Trash'

Breathtaking. I have major regret that I did not get to see the original lineup of this band in action. I was simply too young. Even if I'd heard of them on their first few tours I wouldn't have been able to get into the clubs to see them. I have to content myself with old youtube videos. They are a ROCKET.

411. I Keep Coming Back - The Afghan Whigs from 'Gentlemen'

This whole album feels like listening to a primly drunk egotist brag about the women he fucked and left. It is an honest exploration of that side of male sexuality and it is unrelentingly brutal. A perfect work of art that is very hard to swallow.

412. Sunny - Stevie Wonder from 'For Once In My Life/Uptight'

The polar opposite of The Afghan Whigs! Beautiful open expressive music.

413. Ms. Jackson - Outkast from 'Big Boi & Dre Present...Outkast'

I wonder whether Ms. Jackson ever forgave Andre. I mean, Erykah Badu is a loon. Does her mother know how difficult that woman is to deal with? She's talented and gorgeous, yes, but bitch is crazy.

414. Brain Stew - Green Day from 'Insomniac'

A hot mess.

415. E-Mac (Interlude) - Big Boi from 'Speakerboxxx'

Even Big Boi's spoken word is produced well.

416. Nudes - Rites Of Spring from 'End On End'

This band perfected a kind of naked expression, ably described in the song title. Somehow the sum is vastly greater than the parts and this simple rock format is transformed into something fragile and strange, hovering in that space between tears and begging that we have all been reduced to by heartbreak. I don't know how they do it. I usually can spot the gears in rock bands, can identify the levers they are pulling to make the effect they are after. But with Rites Of Spring it is magic. It's just magic.

417. She - Green Day from 'Dookie'

Monster hit. Great song. It's like eating just the right size dessert. It doesn't last long, when it's over you are sure you could eat some more, but you are completely satisfied.

418. An Exquisite Corpse - John Cameron Mitchell from 'Hedwig And The Angry Inch OST'

Every moment on this soundtrack is great. I just don't understand how John Cameron Mitchell expects me to take Nicole Kidman seriously in 'Rabbit Hole' as nothing on her face cries except her eyes.

419. Save Me - Queen from 'Greatest Hits'

Oh, Freddie, I wish I could. To have you out there still making music? What a gift that would be. Let me look into it because if I can figure out a way to save you, I'm going to do it. I know the band would be psyched. They've had to be out on tour with Paul Rodgers, who is fine, don't get me wrong, but there is only one Freddie. You know that. So, yeah, I will try and save you.

420. Do You Feel Loved - U2 from 'Pop'

Actually, yes, I do! And I hope you do too U2 because I am the only one who likes this album. It is also the moment that I realized I didn't have to pay attention to you guys anymore. I'm done with you but that shouldn't make you feel bad. I know you are still making great music, I just don't care about it.

421. Jam Of The Year - The Artist Formerly Known As Prince from 'Emancipation (Disc 1)'

Everybody's here! This is the jam of the year!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Stepping Up My Game

I have been on a slow long road of transformation, one so long and so slow that at times it doesn't feel as if anything is different. But it is very different. Very very different. When I try and put myself back where I was even a year ago it seems as if I'm watching a tense claustrophobic independent thriller, one where every step the protagonist takes is a choice between bad options, one where you simply wish that the character would just up and renounce everything at stake in the plot because the only hope is for them to pull a caterpillar to butterfly transformation.

Well, I don't have wings yet but I have certainly woven the cocoon.

367. Readin', Rightin', Rt. 23 - Dwight Yoakam from ''

Some day I'm going to meet this guy and tell him (as if he doesn't already know) that he is one of the all-time greats in any genre. He is very interesting to me because he is a GIANT star and yet totally under the radar at the same time. Damn, I love this dude.

368. You're Gonna Hear Brendan - Pimp Fu from 'Who Knows'

Crazy sound collage from Cousin Timothy in which he calls me from a family reunion and records his end of the conversation, passing me off to his sister Marianne. They are all lit and want me to yell so I can be heard on the recording but I think Cashel was asleep so I had to be quiet! Hilarious.

369. Romeo And Juliet - Dire Straits from 'Money For Nothing'

I think someone should do a documentary about Dire Straits and MTV. Because something weird happened back there in which a writer PERFECTLY captured a moment with a song and a period in time. And then he exploded. He then seemed totally uninterested in keeping up that level of exposure. Which is kind of amazing when you think about it. He courted anonymity and a smallness of career instead of continually trying to polish and expand the brass ring he'd already grasped. And man, what a guitar player. Understated but one of the guitar gods.

370. What's The Difference - Dr. Dre from '2001 (Instrumental)'

I simply cannot overstate how much I love this album. But I am itching to hear the rapping because it is equally good. Dr. Dre is one of those giants that is easy to forget about because he sort of hangs back, even on his own albums. But make no mistake, this guy is his generation's version of Quincy Jones. A brilliant MUSICIAN.

371. Shitloads Of Money - Liz Phair from 'Whitechocolatespaceegg'

I laughed to myself on the elliptical machine sweating like a mad man because she is so right. "It's nice to be liked/But it's better by far to get paid". Leave it to Liz Phair to cut through the indie rock low-budget-money-isn't-important-to-us-pose.

372. Bobby Peru - Luna from 'Pup Tent'

This is a chilling little ditty in which a guy sings about his recently deceased girlfriend and you mildly suspect that he might have killed her and claimed it was a suicide. Even if the suicide is real it is chilling because he is only concerned with how it has affected him. Phenomenally creepy little tune.

373. Avant Nous - Edith Piaf from 'The Very Best Of Edith Piaf'

Oh, bonjour, Edith, vous etes une chanteuse extraordinaire. De temps en temps, c'est possible d'oublier vos talents. Bravo!

374. Free Fallin' - Tom Petty from 'Full Moon Fever'

I was a huge Tom Petty fan when this album came out and I didn't like the production on it. Jeff Lynne of ELO produced it and it is slicker than slick, drums are round and deep, the bass is like a black marble floor, and the chiming acoustic guitars took away all the rough swamp grit of Petty's earlier works.

Now? It blows me away. Lynne saw something in Petty, some pop sheen that could be taken to the hilt. Surrounding that idiosyncratic voice with such lushness only further delineates the personality. Great work.

375. Slow Like Honey - Fiona Apple from 'Tidal'

Fiona Apple was a star from the moment she appeared. That is such a rare thing. When you consider all of her imitators who have come and gone in flashes (Natalie Imbruglia??? Vanessa Carlton???), the solidity of her presence out of the gate is rather astonishing. There was no long period like Tori Amos went through before finding her way (and Apple has Amos to thank for a lot more than that...). Nope. Fiona dropped this album and was instantly in the pantheon. Amazing.

376. Big Tall Man - Liz Phair from 'Whitechocolatespaceegg'

By contrast, Liz Phair has never had that kind of cultural stability to rest upon. In fact, most folks don't even know who she is even though she is one of the most important singer/songwriters of the past thirty years. Weird. She and Paul Westerberg should do a tour together.

377. You Should Be High - Low Light Supercharger from 'Umpg Presents Res Freq Recordings'

This is just fine, this punk drag race of a song. There is a breakdown where a wah-wah pedaled guitar kicks in, though, and the solo is so basic and boring that I actually felt like I could have done a better job. And that means it is a BAD SOLO.

378. Intro - Jazzy Jeff's BBE Mix from 'DJ Jazzy Jeff and Peanut Butter Wolf...'

Less than a minute of noise.

379. Dolores - The Miles Davis Quintet from 'Miles Smiles'

What can you say about Miles Davis? I was basically an anti-jazz activist until I heard 'Sketches Of Spain' and then a whole universe opened up to me. I felt like an old racist who has had to come to terms with his bigotry and now cries with joy at being able to accept a whole beautiful aspect of humanity that I'd previously derided. Thank you, Miles, for showing me the light.

380. Run For Your Life - Jarvis Church from 'The Biggest Ragga Dancehall Anthems'

Melody and I went to St. John's and spent a few days lounging on a tropical beach. We wandered the streets of the island town, watched an amateur baseball game that had to be canceled because the lights went out, shot pool in a hut and listened to ragga on the jukebox. So when I came across this compilation of ragga anthems I was totally transported back to that magical trip.

381. Don't Wanna Know - The Refreshments from 'Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy'

One of my favorite albums of all time. I know it by heart. I LOVE THIS ALBUM.

382. Napoleon - Ani DiFranco from 'Dilate'

I am now in a phase where I respond to Ani DiFranco in the way I imagine beleaguered fathers of goth thirteen year old girls respond to the over-dramatic response that they have to their lives. "Yep, your teacher does deserve to be burned in a pit of oil, dear, but you still have to do your homework." "Yes, dear, I know your friends are all minions of Satan and the world is a sad and sorry spectacle but we still have to go to your Grandmother's house for dinner."

383. Ex-Spectator - Fugazi from 'The Argument'

Integrity all the way down the line. These guys spent fifteen years honing and expanding their sound, dropped a perfect album, and called it quits. The Jim Brown of punk rock.

384. Portable Men's Society - Guided By Voices from 'Mag Earwhig!'

Most GBV fans dismiss this album almost out of hand. They might tolerate it but they certainly don't love it. Somehow it hit me at just the right time and went about as deep for me as you can go. I always wanted to be part of the Portable Men's Society, whatever it was. I think I'll join...

385. Pembroke - Soul Side from 'Soon - Come - Happy'

Mediocre. These guys were waiting to break up so that Fugazi could be born. They had some interesting things happening sonically but the songs themselves are forgettable.

386. My Wife - The Who from 'Who's Next'

Whenever Townsend and Daltrey give Entwhistle the keys he comes up with some bit of weirdness that doesn't really fit or work. Clearly a musical genius but it just goes to show you that proficiency does not equal inspiration or songwriting chops.

Still weaving that cocoon. It'll be fun to fly.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tight Rope Straight Dope

354. The Supermen - David Bowie from 'Bowie At The Beeb (Disc 2)'

Hallo, me name is David Bawie and Oi've jus' come from the fairy fields of Dova, running ova dell and dale to tell me tale of woe and stroife...

Good lord he was insufferable before he was great.

355. Satan Is Real - The Louvin Brothers from 'Satan Is Real'

I've written about this album here. What is amazing to me about this song in particular is that it is so simple. A man stands up in a church and reminds the preacher to stress that Satan is real. And that in a nutshell is the impetus behind the album itself. Yo, world, don't forget about Ol' Scratch.

356. Girls Room - Liz Phair from 'Whitechocolatespaceegg'

I make Melody re-enact a scene from her adolescence over and over again. She is at a sleepover and the girls all begin a "game" whereby they would go around the room and say one thing they like about a person and one thing they DON'T like. The hair pulling that results is high comedy in the hands of Ms. Garren.

This song is the non comic version of that demonstration and it makes me happy I am male. If I'd had to deal with this kind of emotional subterfuge I would have been jailed for murder before I was eight.

357. Baroque - Apples In Stereo from 'Velocity Of Sound'

I have no memory of listening to this song. But that isn't surprising because I never know that it is an Apples In Stereo song until I look at the iPod.

358. Perforation Problems - Iggy Pop from 'American Caesar'

I wish I COULD forget this song. This whole album is immaculately played and produced and utterly devoid of personality. Iggy tries to superimpose his twisted sense of self-drama over the top of it but it ultimately winds up being like someone taking karaoke too seriously.

359. Walking After You - Foo Fighters from 'The Colour And The Shape'

And Brendan gets kicked in the gut by Dave Grohl. This album is like a permanent wound in my psyche that will never heal. I forget it is there and then the music starts and I am completely transported. I have not kept up with Foo Fighters output at ALL because this album is so satisfying to me. Usually when I love an album it draws me in as a fan to the rest of the oeuvre. But here? This one's all I need.

360. Tomorrow Night - Elvis Presley from 'The Sun Sessions CD'

I love picturing this scrawny kid angled in front of a microphone before anyone knew who he was. Strumming a guitar and singing along with a band. Just a guy who could sing and play. And boy could he sing and play. He could have been intimidated by the prowess of these sessions guys who showed up at Sun Records to record with him. Who the hell was he? But boom. It is so real.

If your image of Elvis has anything to do with a white suit, flower necklaces, or karate yourself a favor and check out 'The Sun Sessions CD'. You will not believe your ears.

361. The Christian Life - The Louvin Brothers from 'Satan Is Real'

It is a testament to their singing and playing that this song is not downright offensive. Because they are basically telling me (an avid listener) that I am going to Hell and that they pity me my black blasphemous heart.

Fuck you too, you two. But great song.

362. Out Of Your Life - Bob Mould from 'Black Sheets Of Rain'

Bob Mould's first solo album was a breakthrough and still one of my favorite albums of all time. Epic acoustic strumming, obtuse lyrics, think XTC 'Skylarking' meets Richard Thompson. I felt as if he was on the verge of becoming the next important recording artist/guitar hero. He'd honed the punk bombast into something gorgeous and heartbreaking.

This album? It's got great songs, great production...this song in particular is a killer pop/punk rager. But Mould only cut this electric style because he felt as if people didn't respond with enough enthusiasm for the new sound he'd pioneered on the first solo album. There is a "Whatever, I'll Give You Losers What You Want" vibe going on here and since I was NOT one of those people, I felt like the kid sitting at his desk being yelled at because someone was absent. Like, why are you pissed off at me? I'm HERE.

363. What Doesn't Belong To Me - Sinead O'Connor from 'Faith And Courage'

Rather forgettable. Which for Sinead is rare. Usually I resist her because she's gone so far off the deep end it is hard to even think of her as an artist. And then she just bowls you over with something. But not this.

364. Fiddle-Tune Medley - Doc Watson & David Grisman from 'Doc & Dawg'

Hillbilly guitar heroes.

365. Say What You Say - Eminem from 'The Eminem Show'

Such exciting music. I have to get his latest because whenever I hear that 'Recovery' song I am very moved.

366. I Get A Kick Out Of You - Frank Sinatra from 'Sings The Select Cole Porter'

Sheer perfection.

I do not feel too loquacious today. Waiting to hear about a couple of crucial details.

Friday, January 7, 2011

I Came To Play

I have never shied away from the side of show business that is competitive and cut throat. I have little compassion for people who go into this field expecting things to turn out the way they wanted and then turn bitter when the opposite happens. I grew up obsessed with sports, with winning, with the very act of competition. It is invigorating to me.

Of course, I am not immune to that kind of bitterness. It is something that ate away at the fabric of my life for a long time. The external reality of my career did not match my sense of my own talent. This juxtaposition, like a fractured bone, caused me to become off-kilter, out of balance, and less capable of action when necessary.

A few things allowed me to heal (or, I should say, continue to heal because some injuries are permanent and cannot ever be allowed to fester). First and foremost, the love of Melody and my family was like a constant salt water wash, attacking that infected area. Without those people I wouldn't care if I were successful or not. With them I can bear anything.

But right behind those people, in a close second, comes The Workshop With Jeffrey Tambor. I came to this class just as these things that plagued me were coming to a head. My father was on his way out of this world, I was angrier than I'd ever been which is saying a lot, and I was not in control of my own creative destiny.

Tambor changed all that with one pointed finger.

I brought a Shakespeare monologue in for my first time going up onstage. I did a capable job with Edmund from King Lear. Mr. Tambor then asked me a few pointed questions. He then got up on stage and asked me to do the monologue again.

As I did so, he literally poked me in the back, pushing me forward. I had to keep moving to adjust. It also immediately tapped into the well of anger that I was being crushed by but somehow pretending to ignore. Within a few seconds I was snarling the gnarled phrases and spitting them out as if they were bones inside a still-living carcass that I was devouring.

After prodding me on to this explosion, he looked out at the class and asked them what the difference was in the two performances. Uniformly what people noticed was that one was cerebral and well-executed but the second was unpredictable and impassioned. In short, MORE DRAMATIC.

This transformation was not the arrival for me, maybe there isn't an actual arrival, it was merely the jumping off point. I still had many months ahead of me where I refused to address my own attitudes. I was still exhibiting many of the same behaviors that were keeping me (Mr. Tambor's phrase, as in 'What's Keeping You?') trapped in the same old spot.

At this point I am not even concerned with how this affects any career I wish to have. What started that day for me was a slow dawning realization that I wasn't enjoying my life and it was my own damn fault. I don't know from God but even any theoretical divinity would insist upon some sense of gratitude and joy being at the center of your life.

So now that I've dispensed with my bullshit, now that I've agreed to keep shoveling it out of my way every single time I catch myself letting it pile up, now that I've embraced myself...

I came to play (a phrase I borrowed from my buddy Ben Barnes, another member of The Workshop). Thanks, Mr. Tambor. I owe you one.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Timothy's Car

While Cousin Timothy aka Pimp Fu aka Poppa Foxtrot aka Jack Chassis aka Warp Speed-O is on the East Coast I will be driving his sick wheels. Which means that my iPod use will be limited to the gym on a daily basis. I may let these accumulate for a while and cover other topics in the meantime. We shall see.

Today's list covers my gym visit yesterday and the bus ride home.

330. Alalakay - Mamadou Diabate from 'Famous Shovels In Twain'

I'm all for listening to music from all over the world. But not this.

331. Ramp - Ms. Dynamite from 'A Little Deeper'

Good thing you can rhyme 'sex' with 'respect' and 'wreck' and 'check' or else Ms. Dynamite wouldn't have anything to say. This falls in a specific category of music that I do not relate to. The 'uplifting moral cheerleader' song. Basically, Ms. Dynamite is trying to convince all her female sisters that they do not have to settle for one night stands, that they deserve better, but if they do want to have one night stands, then at least respect themselves enough to use a condom and if the guy refuses to use a condom think about having AIDS and dying or getting chlamydia (yes, she uses the word in the song).

All of these sentiments are quite valid and hard to take issue with. But they just don't make for dramatic listening. Dr. Phil is interesting but I don't want to hear him rap.

332. Feeling Good - Nina Simone from 'Verve Unmixed'

Here we go. Nina shows Ms. Dynamite how it is done. When Nina sings it is as if she is opening a viewing door into her heart. There might be troublesome things in there (something Ms. Dynamite would exclude so as to have more clout as a self-help therapist) but she doesn't hide it. Her emotional presence is so vivid that it is almost uncomfortable, even if she is singing about feeling good. There is something unsettling about someone having a private moment so publicly. That is brave artistry, as opposed to Ms. Dynamite's pat sloganeering.

One of the all-time greats.

333. Lusty Scripps - Fugazi from 'Instrument Soundtrack'

I have yet to see this documentary, something I intend to remedy as soon as possible. Somehow the idea of being an accompaniment has freed Fugazi up to make some of the most playful music of their career. This song has no lyrics and it is funny. Not sure how they pull that off and if any of you are familiar with the Fugazi canon, humor does not play a large role in their aesthetic. This song makes me yearn for them to reunite and somehow embrace a wider audience in a reunion tour a la Pixies in 2004. I know it won't happen because they would never deal with the corporate entities necessary to pull off a tour of that scale but I think they should be in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame even though they would bitch-slap me for even putting them in the same sentence.

Another one of the all-time greats.

334. OK Song - Orson from 'Bright Idea'

Whenever these guys pop up on my iPod I wonder why they aren't bigger. They seem like a glam/Brit version of OK Go mixed with Robbie Williams or something. Just great songs which are produced extremely well, very creative arrangements and superb execution. I dig 'em.

335. Hang On To Your Ego - Frank Black from 'Frank Black'

Frank Black recorded this song before the Beach Boys retrospective came out and this version of the song was more a bootleg. It is a great cover. Every time I hear a Beach Boys cover I understand a little bit more about why they are and were The Beach Boys. I am not a huge fan. I enjoy their music but came of age just in time to hear 'Kokomo' on the radio and they just seemed like a joke. I've never been able to quite shake that perception even though I know intellectually that they are far more than that.

This song helps me appreciate the original more and that is, I think, the true test of a great cover.

336. There's A Place - The Beatles from 'Please Please Me'

I will scream with the teenagers of yore for these four lads.

337. Play The Game - Queen from 'Greatest Hits'

The other day in the car Cashel and I were listening to this album. Cashel said something to the effect that you wouldn't say Queen was deep because their music is so catchy to sing along to that you don't even notice if the subject matter is sad or troublesome. This song is a perfect example of that.

338. Jack The Ripper - Link Wray from 'Rumble! The Best Of Link Wray'

Link Wray invented distortion when he jammed a pencil into his speaker and liked the way the buzz sounded. Or something like that. I once played this to wake up Justin and his fiancee while they were sleeping and they reacted like Britain politicians did to the original Sex Pistols tour. This is not music for the faint of heart. It is raw and unadulterated. It sounds, in fact, like a rumble.

339. You Can't Always Get What You Want - The Rolling Stones from 'Hot Rocks, 1964-1971 (Disc 2)'

Listening to this song and trying to separate it from itself is impossible. I know that if I could erase its cultural cache from my brain I would probably be floored by it. But somehow it's like there was never a time when I didn't know it by heart. So its impact is somehow dulled. But, c'mon. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir??? And how the Stones just sort of creep up on you as those little blond boys sing??? Colossally creepy and moving. This song's reputation precedes itself and that is a shame.

340. Reconsider Baby - Eric Clapton from 'From The Cradle'

I have taken to bashing Eric Clapton here from time to time. Part of this comes from hearing Cream songs on a regular basis. I hate Cream. They stink. Bad singing, stupid lyrics, muddy production, they stink. And as I've improved (barely) as a guitar player, I am less impressed with Clapton as a player. Whereas the more I improve the MORE I'm impressed by Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, etc.

But I have to admit that this album has a very special place in my heart. I spent one last summer on the couch at my parents house. I was trying to get from Providence to New York and I'd stalled forty minutes down I-95 on familiar territory. I was working at the group homes and disintegrating following the break up with Maria.

I fell in with a few old high school friends who were also around and it felt strange to be hanging out in an apartment over Main Street right down the street from the high school. Two girls were sharing the apartment and I began dating one of them but was in such bad shape that I did not have much to offer. It was a very chaste union and went a long way towards healing some of the wounds that I'd been licking.

This was the summer that Jeff Buckley's 'Grace' came out and the four of us (the other girl was dating an old high school chum) would sit and sip wine, smoke pot, and listen to that album and Eric Clapton's 'From The Cradle'.

It had none of the flash of Clapton's 1970's stuff which I abhorred and was gritty and down to earth. To date it is the only Clapton album that I can really listen to and most of it has to do with the way the light hit the hardwood floor of that apartment. And with the sweet girl who was more a friend than anything else and turned an otherwise unbearable summer into a gentle adventure.

341. Things - Paul Westerberg from '14 Songs'

In this song he talks of things he can say, won't say, doesn't want to say, never will say. I'm going to paraphrase one of them. He admits one thing he will never tell her - that somewhere down the line she'll be a song he sings, a thing he gives away.


342. I'm Ready To Go Home - The Louvin Brothers from 'Satan Is Real'

Man these guys are killers. Killers. A fascinating story these two.

343. Leaving - Gregory Isaacs from 'Trojan Dub Box Set (Disc 3)'

Hot dub. Hot dub time machine.

344. Help Me I'm Hungry (Radio Appearance) - Nirvana from 'With The Lights Out (Disc 1)'

Not impressed with this one. I saw a photo of Courtney Love on her most recent tour and she looks like a reality show about plastic surgery. It made me angry with him for choosing her, for choosing hard drugs, for putting forth this image that was all about integrity and purity and then allowing himself to be co-opted by an attention whore media junkie. Imagine if he weren't dead. Would he be standing by her side supporting her latest breast implants? The dead fish Botox look? No. And that is the great shame. If he'd hooked up with some quiet wallflower who loved good books and hot tea on cold days he'd be cranking out masterpiece after masterpiece. Instead she hopped on like a fame leech and sucked him dry in front of our eyes. I hate her. But I love that Hole album with 'Malibu' on it so what can you do?

345. 20 Flight Rock - Backbeat Band from 'Backbeat Original Soundtrack'

I've written about this album before...a collection of punk and alternative superstar session players re-creating the meth frenzy and stripper ambiance that fueled The Beatles during their time in Hamburg, before they got Ringo, before they changed the world, when they were just four guys playing in seedy foreign bars for up to six hours at a time.

It was a stroke of genius to use punk players to catch this vibe. I highly recommend checking this album out. You will feel like a German businessman who stumbles into a strip club to see some titties in tassels and ends up seeing the future instead.

346. Good Day Sunshine - The Beatles from 'Revolver'

And now for the real thing! 'Revolver' finds The Beatles saying, "Um, hey, we can do ANYTHING WE WANT." Somehow it seems to me that this revelation had never before occurred to anyone in quite this way. And it was their grasp of that idea that makes them who they are. Their willingness to do anything. Rules? What rules?

347. Lick The Hare - Pimp Fu from 'Shocker'

Speaking of willing to do anything, Cousin Timothy, currently lending me his car, has put together one of the most good-spirited filthy albums ever. Someday you will hear it and know what I mean. Just look at the title of the song, folks. It's absurd.

348. For You - Prince from 'For You'

So this seventeen year old black kid from Minneapolis puts out an album in which he plays every single note. And on this song he uses only his voice in a strange a cappella cascade. Beautiful and weird, almost embarrassing, as if it is a diary entry or something.

349. Sinner's Prayer - Eric Clapton from 'From The Cradle'

See above.

350. Dreaming From The Waist - The Who from 'Who By Numbers'

Killer epic from The Who. Great lyrics, great playing, great all around. I don't have much use for 'Quadrophenia' or 'Tommy'. Whenever anyone tells me something is IMPORTANT or EPIC I tend to think they are unsure of whether or not the work is actually those things. But if they are content to let ME decide? Then they got me.

351. Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See - Busta Rhymes from 'Heavy Turbulence - Music From Elektra'

Okay, Busta. I will. Good song.

352. Meanest Man - Billy Bragg & Wilco from 'Mermaid Avenue, Vol. 2'

It is a hoot to think of Woody Guthrie writing these hard boiled lyrics. It adds a dimension to him that is much appreciated. Sainthood is boring.

353. London Bye Ta Ta - David Bowie from 'Bowie At The Beeb (Disc 1)'

Hey David, I have an idea. Why don't you totally transform yourself and your songwriting and give up bullshit like this and really leave your mark on history? Can you do that? Because this is a pile of crap.

Thanks for the ride, Pimp.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


My father taught me that the apostrophe and capital M in my name was sacred. Especially considering that my initials would be 'B.O.' without them. Computers have really put a crimp in this belief as I've had to acquiesce to various multinational conglomerates knowing me only as Brendan Omalley or OMalley or even God forbid Brendan O Malley, as if my middle name were Oscar or some other dumb shit.

On the bus this morning I was confronted with the real thing. The tendency is to blame the person sitting next to you. However, the little Mexican lady was impeccable. A goth hipster across the aisle seemed well groomed. There's the culprit...

On the raised platform sat the offending party. If you are homeless I don't hold your smell against you. But if you look like you came out of an apartment that BY LAW has to have a shower or bath then, come on, Stinky! Get it together.

Luckily I had a coffee so I kept my nose pressed up against the Starbucks cup and greedily inhaled the odor as if it were coke and I was in a 1980's Bret Easton Elis novel. Dude reeked.

Because one of my senses was being assaulted, I delved deeper into the music with my ears. Maybe if I really got into the tunes my nose wouldn't hurt so much.

287. I Can't Get Next To You - Al Green from 'Al Green - Greatest Hits'

I'll say I can't get next to you. You stink. So far the music isn't working.

288. Hurricane - Bob Dylan from 'The Essential Bob Dylan (Disc 2)'

This is not a good song. I know, they made a movie out of it, it's true, blah blah blah. But real life is NOT great art. When Bob Dylan is making shit up he is more interesting than the fact that cops in Paterson, NJ are racist.

289. When You're Smiling - Louis Armstrong from 'All-Time Greatest Hits'

Whenever Louis Armstrong comes on, I have a brief moment of impatience, like what happens when the remote breaks and you're stuck watching an old episode of 'The Jackie Gleason Show'. But about thirty seconds in, you ain't changing the channel and you're laughing your ass off.

290. La La Love You - Pixies from 'Doolittle'

Up there with the greats this album is.

291. Speak Low - Tony Bennett from 'Unplugged'

Tony nails this audience to the wall.

292. The Back Door To Heaven - Aztec Camera from 'Knife'

I'm looking for the front door out of the club to get away from Aztec Camera.

293. Reconsider Me - Warren Zevon from 'Genius: The Best Of Warren Zevon'

This is a heartbreak of a song. A man pleading for a second chance, the boy who cried wolf, the abuser who wishes he could stop hitting her, the user who blushes with shame as the needle pierces the skin. Harrowing.

294. Headache - Liz Phair from 'Whitechocolatespaceegg'

Oh Liz. Melody rolls her eyes and laughs at me whenever Liz Phair comes up because she knows I have a crush on her. I feel like I am in 8th grade every time a song of hers comes on.

295. This Is How I Do It - Pimp Fu from 'Raw Fushi...t'

Yes it is, Pimp. It is how you do it. He poses an interesting question here..."Do you think it's easy to manipulate the beats like this? Livin' on the edge?' I for one do NOT think it's easy.

296. Being Alone Together - David & David from 'Boomtown'

For a short second this sounds like it is going to be a sexy song. And you get the feeling that they wanted to write a make-out song. But then their darker impulses can't help but take over and instead it's a break-up song.

297. Ballad Of A Teenage Queen - Johnny Cash from 'The Sun Years'

The bullshit background singers are like a bow tie on a pit bull. They sound absurd next to Johnny's baritone.

298. Mincer Ray - Guided By Voices from 'Bee Thousand'

More weirdness from the boys from Dayton.

299. Brendan # 1 - Fugazi from 'Repeater + 3 Songs'

Instrumental punk/funk/crunk with my name on it. What's not to like?

300. Not Behind The Fighter Jet - Guided By Voices from 'Mag Earwhig!'

This is right up there for me in terms of favorites from this band. The sentiment is matched perfectly with the music (a massive military cacophony as an ode to a babe) and somehow very touching in the midst of all the noise is his declaration: "I'm not behind the fighter jet/I'd much rather back a simple girl".

Also some pre-apocalyptic fear to get the juices flowing.

301. Humiliate Me - The Fatima Mansions from 'Lost In The Former West'

When The Mansions come to town you'd better lock your doors or you'll be licking their bootheels as they hold you down and enumerate your many faults in front of their own personal tribune.

302. Earth Song - Michael Jackson from 'HIStory (Disc 2)'

Somehow he can make you forget all the bullshit. Even with this stupid green anthem. It's an obvious ploy to get us to focus on something other than the ruined face and the little boys. Like Cheney pimping a charity for kids with cancer. Who could argue? But when Jackson wails his voice is like a perfectly successful propaganda campaign. In the face of it all atrocity is forgotten. That's power. And powerlessness as well.

303. Russian Dance - Tom Waits from 'The Black Rider'

I make fun of ol' Tom for seeming to be more interested in creating a song out of two tin cans, a busted microwave oven, bacon fat sizzling on a pan, and three dogs fighting over a pile of broken glass. But occasionally his thirst for quirk creates strange beautiful vistas. This is one of them. You almost expect Anton Chekhov to pipe in with a verse about his tomato garden.

304. Fire Of Unknown Origin (Bonus Track - Original Version) - Blue Oyster Cult from 'Agents Of Fortune (Remaster)'

Oh, this is a bonus track? God, you guys SUCK.

305. You Made Me Love You - Screamin' Jay Hawkins from 'Voodoo Jive: The Best Of Screamin' Jay Hawkins'

Dude is crazy. Seriously. Do yourself a favor and go out and buy a greatest hits collection from Screamin' Jay Hawkins. It is not to be believed.

306. So Sorry - Runner & The Thermodynamics from 'Marlboro: The 2nd Sessions'

Whenever songs come up from these compilations I usually lose patience real quick. But this is actually quite a good song. Thumbs up.

307. Swanee River Rock (live) - Ray Charles from 'Ray Charles Live'

I love air. I am glad air keeps me alive. I like Ray Charles more than air.

308. Your Sister Can't Twist (But She Can Rock & Roll) - Elton John from 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road'

Hey Elton, you are trying too hard. All I can think when I hear his old stuff is the music bouncing off the walls of the closet he is singing from inside of.

309. Big Boys - Elvis Costello & The Attractions from 'This Year's Model'

Streamlined killer pop punk.

310. I'll Follow The Sun - The Beatles from 'Beatles For Sale'

Hey World, beat this! Oh, you can't? Didn't think so!

311. 24 Mo' Hours - Ice Cube from 'War & Peace, Vol. 2 (The Peace Disc)'

I wish Ice Cube could get twenty four more hours from dealing with these killers and these cowards. He doesn't want to lose, all he wants to do is win, he fucked up today, can he try it again?

312. Gotta Say - Low Light Supercharger from 'Umpg Presents Res Freq Recordings'

Another surprise enjoyment of a middling hard rock song on a random sampler. Dig it.

313. I Don't Believe You've Met My Baby - Dolly Parton from 'Little Sparrow'

There is a sessions player in Nashville who grabbed his acoustic guitar and tore this song to pieces. I don't know his name but Hendrix, Page, Clapton, Van Halen...all those guys couldn't carry his jock.

314. Allure - Jay-Z from 'The Black Album'

I can't wait for him to own part of a Brooklyn basketball team. This New Jersey Net bullshit has got to end.

315. Pride And Joy - Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble from 'Greatest Hits'

Stevie Ray Vaughan could give Dolly's acoustic guitar hero a run for his money. If I were down at the crossroads with Robert Johnson and offering my soul to the Devil and he said, "Well, okay, but who do you want to be able to play like?" it would be SRV. Hands down.

316. Time To Get Ill - The Beastie Boys from 'Licensed To Ill'

Rap has come a long way. Hip hop has come even further. This song must make The Beasties cringe.

317. Shove - L7 from 'Tank Girl'

I remember the hype machine trying to shove L7 down every one's throat. They just ain't that good.

318. For Once In My Life - Stevie Wonder from 'For Once In My Life/Uptight'

More perfection from this guy who is somehow still underrated.

319. Big Egos - Dr. Dre from '2001 (Instrumental)'

This music is terrifying. When you strip the braggadocio vocals away, what you are left with is a soundtrack to an imaginary movie. The sounds contain sun, sand, weed, shiny rims, and lurking around every corner is danger. He layers in helicopters in the background. Gunshots break the mood. Screams ring out. Then it all drops away and you are left with nothing but the beat. And then you feel what it might mean to grow up in that atmosphere and have nothing to count on except the music you love.

320. Maxwell's Silver Hammer - The Beatles from 'Abbey Road'

These guys are okay. They might amount to something.

321. P Funk (Wants To Get Funked Up) - Parliament from 'Parliament's Greatest Hits'

So a little bit of funk goes a long way. This is seven minutes and five don't matter. But it's still fun. Someone recently claimed George Clinton was from Detroit and I think he's from Minneapolis. Gonna Google and come right back...

Both wrong. The 'P' in 'P-Funk' originally referred to 'Plainfield' as in 'Plainfield, New Jersey'. Which must have morphed into Parliament...

322. Speedway Baby - Velvet Crush from 'In The Presence Of Greatness'

These guys hail from Providence, RI and kick ass.

323. God Is In The Radio - Queens Of The Stone Age from 'Songs For The Deaf'

Talk about kicking ass. If this were the 1970's these guys would be on posters on every wall of every white kid in America. Seeing as they came up in the 1990's they are cult stars at best. Would be household names.

324. The Tourniquet Blues - Brendan O'Malley from 'Rhode Island Red'

I like this song. Before I typed 'I like this song' I typed 'cringe-worthy'. So I am conflicted. I can't play it anymore and I wouldn't if I could because it isn't good enough but I was actually a bit surprised at how good my guitar playing was back in 1993. I don't know that I've improved all that much.

325. Stray Cat Blues - The Rolling Stones from 'Beggars Banquet'

I love every cut on this album and count it as my favorite Stones album. I know it isn't the best, but it is my favorite.

326. Cashing In - Minor Threat from 'Minor Threat: Complete Discography'

At some time in the future there will be some way to quantify how important this band was to the alternative music explosion that occurred in the early 1990's. The entire grunge anti-corporate ethos is lifted verbatim from these D.C. egghead brawlers and most of the licks and fuzz and bombast is stolen too. Without them there is no Pearl Jam, no Green Day, no System Of A Down, hell, there isn't even a Fall Out Boy, which, who cares, but the bottom line remains...Minor Threat might just be the most important and influential rock band in American history. And about 1000,000 people know it.

327. Get Crunk, Get Buck - Al Kapone from 'Hustle & Flow'

Thanks, Al, I will. I will get crunk. I will get buck. How could I refrain from getting crunk and buck when you have created such a killer crunk 'n buck track?

328. Looks - Mike Doughty from 'Skittish'

This is one of the weaker tracks on this album and it is still perfect.

329. Whores - Janes Addiction from 'Kettle Whistle'

It's at times like these that I long for a good slow jam from Luther Vandross. Or Lawrence Welk. Or anyone for that matter. Just get this shit off my iPod.

I am now about a week into a new way of eating. Only salad, vegetables, fruit, nuts, and meat. Slimmin' down, look out America! Look the fuck out for me!