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Category: Music

Music Meme


Total amount of music files on your computer

949 songs, 4.72 GB. According to iTunes, it would take me 2.4 days to listen to all of them.

The last CD you bought was…

The I ♥ Huckabees soundtrack, I think. More recently, I purchased Franz Ferdinand’s entire first album on iTunes.

What is the song you last listened to before reading this message?

Before reading this message? I don’t remember. The last song iTunes played before I started writing this post was Green Day’s “No Pride.” Right now I’m listening to Weezer’s “Burndt Jamb.”

Write down 5 songs you often listen to or that mean a lot to you.

Five songs I often listen to or that mean a lot to me? That couldn’t possibly be more arbitrary. I chose these songs sort of at random, I guess.

  • “Muzzle” by The Smashing Pumpkins. It’s good for when you need to be reminded that it’s OK you never grew entirely out of your “fourteen-year-old romantic” phase—and why would you want to grow out of being amazed by the distance to the sun and lamenting and celebrating mortality, anyway? This song reminds me of many of my favorite works of art, but perhaps especially The Invisibles and Romeo and Juliet.
  • “Beatles Mash-up Medley” by Hank Handy and The Beatles (find download links at Boing Boing). A lovely mashup of forty Beatles songs.
  • “Scott Pilgrim” by Plumtree. I discovered this song through Bryan Lee O’Malley. It’s like a super-condensed rock version of Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life.
  • “No One Else” by Weezer, because I just imported the CD into iTunes and this song is playing right now.
  • “The Show Must Go On” by Queen, as well as the version from Moulin Rouge. Because I’m out of room and I have dozens more songs I could name, so whatever. Both versions are totally awesome, although I love the Moulin Rouge version even more.

Who are you going to pass this stick to? (3 persons) and why?

Nobody! I guess I can see the point of building an explicit self-replicating mechanism into a meme—self-replication is what memes do, after all—but this chain-letter stuff becomes an anti-self-replication mechanism when the meme comes into contact with people like me who don’t want to play along. Infect yourself with the meme if you want it (or, bum bum bum, if it wants you!). You don’t need me to pass the torch.

Rose Music

I was asking Steven the other night whether we participate in question memes making the rounds, since my instinct would be to ignore them. He was interested, though, and since I’ve been called out by Dorian Wright AND because it was a birthday present, I have no choice but to comply.

1. Total amount of music files on your computer:

I seem to have 1.14 GB right now, but this is a new computer. And all of it’s legal, or at worst semi-legal mashup downloads. But I haven’t had this computer long and have other music I’ll eventually add, since my iTunes listening is getting a tiny bit predictable.

2. The last CD you bought was:

Two New Pornographers albums, Electric Version and Mass Romantic. The Christmas gift certificate didn’t really cover both, but I couldn’t decide between them fast enough before the store closed and so bought both. I used to buy cds all the time, especially weird ones from the 4/$10 (and once, on a happy day, 15/$10!) bin at my now-closed local store, but for several historical and financial reasons I’ve totally fallen away from new and interesting music. Someday I hope to go back, but it’s almost depressing to go into a store and see how far behind I am. Same with fiction, really, except that was library-based then and now.

3. What is the song you last listened to before reading this message?

I thought it would be cheating to put something on this morning, knowing that I’d have to answer here. Steven had on Queen in the car last night, so something from Queen’s Greatest Hits, Vol. 1. None of us can recall what it was and I made him turn it off because the cd is about 20 minutes long which means it’s impossible to play it in the car without hearing everything 20 times, especially if Steven insists on skipping songs.

4. Write down 5 songs you often listen to or that mean a lot to you.

I’m going to take the historical approach of pivotal songs that have meant a lot and choose only songs and only songs in English, which I hope will let me narrow things down to 5. Can you tell I’m not good at this? I might do an instrumental set later or even one of songs where I don’t or only partly understand the language. That could be fun, too.

Leonard Cohen’s “Story of Isaac” got me seriously started on folk music and song-as-poem stuff at age 13 or so.

Over the Rhine’s “Within Without” was a local-band-makes-good(ish) song I listened to every time I had to leave my room for a year or so in high school. I still like them on the whole, but maybe other songs more than this one.

Veda Hille’s entire album Spine, but maybe “One Hot Summer” if I had to pick just one song: “there’s so much beauty that I don’t believe in / god knows that my moth holds more teeth than wisdom.” It took me forever to bring myself to buy the album because the cover art was so grisly, but no one else was willing to get it even for $2.50. I would probably say it’s my favorite album.

Rose Polenzani is another favorite, and I think today I’d choose “Flood” as the one I hold onto most strongly, but it probably changes. Hers were just about the only cds I bought in college and she’s lovely and smart and charming in person. Yay!

While I can’t find a satisfactory link, “Midnight Radio” is probably my favorite song from Hedwig and the Angry Inch , or maybe “Random Number Generation.” I think that’s as close to new as I can get.

Honorable mentions who really deserve to be up there include The Incredible String Band, Robyn Hitchcock, Dar Williams, Ani DiFranco, Richard Shindell, Erin McKeown, Aimee Mann, The October Project, Eric Bogle, Cornershop, Jane Siberry, Lisa Germano, Pooka Blonde Redhead, Laura Nyro, Talking Heads, Nick Cave, The Rheostatics, The Klezmatics, and really lots more people I really love and can’t distill to a top 5. I’m probably cheating by having two men in my top 5, since mostly you can boil me down to female voices with sharp, haunting lyrics, but maybe there really is more to me than that.

5. Who are you going to pass this stick to? (3 persons) and why?

This is part of the reason I’ve been holding off, because I don’t want it to be a popularity contest or make people feel pressured or anything like that. I suppose Steven had better do it to even things out around here. Beyond that I’m not going to make it mandatory, but I’d really like to hear anything about music that other people want to say.

Turn Your Quivering Nerves in My Direction

What’s up with Scots and psychedelia anyway? I decided to take a night off Grant Morrison to seam up the shirt I’ve been knitting and generally lounge around, which meant I finally got to watch my new copy of The Incredible String Band movie, Be Glad for the Song Has No Ending. My mother watched, alternately amused and chagrined by her own memories, since it was her records that had made me a fan of the band in the first place. In fact, I’m not only a fan of the String Band, but I think many of the musicians I’ve come to like since share common traits with them, most notably Robyn Hitchcock and Rose Polenzani.

But I felt like a fool watching a movie that far predates me of a band that disbanded before I was born, because my first thought was, “They look so young!” And they were young and blooming with exuberance and honesty and songs I love, making it an endearing movie. One thing I noticed quickly was the way my relationship to The Psychedelic has changed since I was a teenager. Then I was mostly put off by the idea of drug use, which hasn’t particularly changed, but there wasn’t any of that visible in the film anyway, and I don’t know to what extent it was a part of their reality. Instead what I realized is that I’d been intrigued and repelled by psychedelic imagery because some of the ideas resonated with me but they were couched in what seemed to be nonsense gibberish. And at that point I realized I hadn’t avoided thinking about Morrison at all.

See, stories in which magical drug insights give a character (or author, I suppose) insight into reality-as-it-is always seemed unsatisfying to me. Morrison seemed to undercut the sincere spirit journey version in Animal Man with all the scenes in The Invisibles that suggest that while you can believe you’ve taken a drug, you can never trust yourself to believe you’re in reality. New X-Men has an awkward anti-drug slant, and drugs other than sex and reality seem to be basically absent from The Filth, which is odd. OK, they’re not absent, but they’re not consciousness-altering either. Tony needs his cat medicine, though what medicine and for what condition is both unclear and crucial. And the president has to take drugs to become a crack whore, so I’m not sure if that means the drugs he takes bring him into closer contact with his real self or not. And then there’s the medical marijuana sequence at the end, in which a guy who nearly killed himself while stoned prolongs his painful status quo (and maybe dulls the pain) with more drugs. So apparently I was crazy in thinking drugs don’t figure in much, but it still seems odd to me that drugs don’t show up more in the filth of the world than they do. I guess it’s still significant that they don’t seem to bring any extra awareness or sensitivity and that just living “normally” clouds your mind too.

What I found revealing about Be Glad was that contrary to what I’d gathered from their songs, The Incredible String Band didn’t believe there were lots of gods in the world. They believed they were gods, creating for their own enjoyment and amusement, and audience was of little concern. I like being ignored like that, because it means they don’t bother to pander to me. It might be that this is what Grant Morrison does too. Some readers think what he does is just playing with whatever he finds intriguing at the time, and I can’t totally disagree. I just think I have enough overlap that the ideas remain interesting without so much that I find them trite, but I guess the question is whether this matters to Morrison. It only matters to me inasmuch as I’ve described; the way he writes is interesting to me, and so I stay interested, not very exciting. And sometimes I think he fails completely at synthesizing things, and that’s interesting too. But while The Incredible String Band was not commercial (or at least I hope they didn’t have commercial aspirations, since their fame was fleeting) and could stand to say heartfelt but unhelpful things to Newsweek interviewers, beaming while their girlfriends embroidered tunics in the background, Morrison is making a real living writing comics and doing fairly well. Does this mean he has an obligation to give his audience what it wants? My standard answer when this question arises in comics is that that would be a horrible idea, because I really don’t want to see Wolverine battling a set of breasts the size of Connecticut. But obviously Morrison has to take audience into account to some degree if he wants to make any money, and I really don’t know how he or others manage this.

So I didn’t talk about The Filth much, but that’s because this was a night to think about what it means to be creating a good world in art and in life. I’m never sure I’m up to it, but there also doesn’t seem to be an acceptable alternative. And there’s another gnomic statement you can use to sum up The Filth. Perhaps I ought to start collecting them, and maybe that would be a start.

And I bid you good night.