My next euphoria

We just returned from another life-changing rock and roll road trip. It was inspired by a pop song, encouraged by our love of the band, The Maine, and served as a much needed break from the general monotony of adult life. I loved every minute of it. (Well, maybe not L.A. traffic…and those were many minutes.) It is one of those truly life affirming things to travel whilst doing what you love.  The combination of both joys – the experience of seeing different places combined with the euphoria of hearing, seeing and feeling music you love for a series of nights has always been one of my favorite feelings ever since I was old enough to travel for music. I love travel on its own but being “on your way to a show” adds a layer of anticipation that cannot be matched by anything that I have experienced in my life.

The music, the travel and the company you bring enhances every emotion you feel. Sometimes that feeling is annoyance…travel is stressful, but one moment of stress turns to euphoric excitement.  We called it “recalculating” on this trip – a re-correction to get you on the right path like a GPS.  Things start to slip, a moment goes bad (you get lost, you’re starving, tired, the car smells) and you do something to make it better.  I know that I need to remember to recalculate next time I feel lost or out of control, especially at work since that is where we spend so much of our time feeling anxious or frustrated.  If you recalculate, find an upswing…things get better.

I always leave my experiences with live music (and specifically The Maine) with this feeling that making the world and myself better is a useful exercise. The world wears you down with all of its trifles – all of the little things that need to be done – trips like this remind me that a balance needs to be struck between all of those things that are tugging at your heart and mind. I always end up feeling, after these shows, that hope may not be lost. I can be better, stronger, kinder, more grateful, more tenacious (all qualities I see in the amazing artists I have had the pleasure of seeing 6 times in 7 nights). These are not things that are completely lost on me, but I lose sight of them in preference to getting through the day, getting fussy about things that aren’t worth the time, or getting lost in trying to please others at the expense of myself, my family,and my overall soul.

This is especially relevant when seeing the Maine. First of all, they have quickly become my favorite band (in a weird tie with The Mats and Dead Hot Workshop. Hopkins must stand alone in this scenario). Their kindness, humbleness, DIY tenacity just makes me think…if we ALL carried the passion they have into what we did…what kind of world could this be?!

So here are thoughts and feelings I am carrying with me into this week from our week-long Maine-cation.

Balance – gotta make it; gotta rock. You’re not hardcore unless you live hardcore. Part of that is music, art, poetry; part of that is being the best damn Asst. Director of Curriculum Development the world has ever seen (lol); part of that is making sure that personal business is attended to and our house is made a home; part of that is taking a damn break and letting it happen without guilt. It’s the balance of work rock, rock rock, creative rock, house rock and taking a little nap rock. All valid.

Be kind; be gracious. We’re only here for a short time.

This isn’t the end. Being 34 is not the end. Being 38 is not the end. We’re here until we’re not. It’s a great time to be alive. I want to make the most of it. I want the balance struck to reflect that. I am a firm believer in Bukowski’s, “Find what you love and let it kill you” mantra. Growing up is not an option. We’re just going to be so good at playing grown up – no one will ever know.  Let this passion kill me. Let me find more ways to let it in and more ways to let it out.

This is what live music does to me. I turn into a blithering idiot full of mantras and buzzwords and big dreams of what I could do with the wild, painful, tight feeling in my chest that says, live more, work harder. Enjoy the wind and the sun, and jump up and down at rock and roll concerts until they take me out on a gurney.

For once in my life, enough talk.

Aging ‘Rocker’ Laments Lost Youth; Film at 11.

There’s still some living left when your prime comes and goes. – “Big Casino,” Jimmy Eat World

In some ways it’s both harder and easier to be brave when you’re older.  Some of that petty stuff doesn’t matter quite as much, sure.  And you’re supposed to be more comfortable in your own skin.  There are those who won’t ever quite fit right in these fleshy pants. So, while it gets easier certainly, being an awkward adult has challenges separate from awkwardness that is allowed to you as part of growing up.  Oh, to live in those heady days where there was an excuse to be made.  “It’s an awkward phase…”

I wouldn’t advise it, but for better or worse I have lived on the fringes of my own design.  I would certainly never claim to be punk rock. Always a kid from the suburbs. Sorta proud of that. I’ve always felt a bit out of place.  That old Piersons trope always spoke to me: “too pussy for punks, too punk for pussies.” But I loved music and desperately wanted to be cool. I could never pull it off.

Last night driving into a layered pink sunset (those which we are blessedly accustomed to here), I thought of the other sunsets I’ve chased. I thought of the artist, the bone pope and days when possibilities were expansive as the rows of crops on the Iowa horizon. There was just possibility in the air much more frequently.  Sure, it was about roadtrips and bands and having fun but it always seemed to be about so much more — about chasing some aesthetic, “living the way you want,” rock and roll rules, and all of these other silly ideals.  Not that this was a spoken thing but we knew where we were headed.

Stay between the white lines

follow them home

There was some persistent excitement, even when I was at home on winter nights with snow falling in that damn picturesque way when its caught in the street lights before it evaporates on the asphalt.  It was all Boone’s Farm and poetry, music and all of that other stuff you have time for in your 20s.

Last night, I found myself standing in a very familiar place. Waiting in line for a a band.  I’m surrounded by girls in their 20s and I feel a bit self-conscious.  It’s silly. I’m listening to their conversations and wondering if I ever sounded like that.  One girl tells another about the lengths she’s gone to see a band and how long she waited in line and how close she was to the stage. How she felt out of place in her flannel.  I liked her.

This whole age thing sneaks up on you.  I think the part that is the most unsettling is you are able to look around, with a clear head and see the value that people much younger than you are bringing to the world while you are, predictably, taking the safe route that most of us seem to end up taking.  It’s just that some don’t go quietly in into that good night along the way.

I didn’t fight it as hard as some people, because I knew in my heart that it wasn’t my place. I have wanted to be “cool” — to push boundaries, but it just isn’t me. I’m still not comfortable with that one. I still wish I could create and pester and push limits. But unfortunately, I know mine.  It doesn’t stop me from looking back and wondering though if I could have. It seems the idealism of youth is more of an embarrassment of old age.

But still…in between the domestic trifles and the drudgery of work, I have these moments. Usually brought on by a song, a movie, the sky, even  TV show…where the inexplicable, all-encompassing wave comes over me.  Just this intense feeling or emotion that I don’t know what to do with.  I wish I could explain it. I suppose it feels like love and drugs. (https://youtu.be/D9t5i49I6uc) but Mark and I used to call it feeling “there.”  Just lost in a perfect moment of absolute overwhelming emotion because of some piece of ART that “someone” created.

It is in these times I wish I could do what that artist did — create something that made someone feel that way.

So, there’s still time until time runs out. I may never be any more than I am right now: a bit slovenly, manic and useless; shiftless when idle; a “quiet achiever” (as I’m told in report cards from my youth and work performance evaluations).  But I hope I can be more.

Thank god for the miscreants and poets, drunks and saints, the scholars and scumbags who make me feel that way.

For now…down, down, down with middle class life.

Postscript: And another thing…it is the biggest load of crap that kids today are spoiled and entitled.  They didn’t grow up with the shadow of The Depression.  Can we be happy about that?  They also didn’t grow up working the land.  So what? Neither did a good portion of the fine city living folks in their 40s now  There are young people out there breaking down the entire known system…any system. Entertainment, science, technology, business.  I know that people out there see the worst – hell, even I do working at  a university, but there is amazing shit happening because young people today are fearless in ways that both serve as detriment and catalyst. Can we give them a break?

 

 

Takeways from American Candy Week 2015

Forget what you think you know about yourself.

Realize there are two types of people in the world: those that believe they can learn and be taught, and those that believe that skill is innate and therefore, cannot be learned.

Just try…just a little more than you are now.

What’s the rush?

Find your American Candy and throw it away.

Not everything will have a positive outcome; hell…half of what I do won’t have any outcome at all. But that’s no reason not to do it.

Make time for something in your day that moves you.

They told me; I should listen: Go into the world and create something. Create something that moves you. Don’t try and please anyone.

Don’t be scared.

 

for all the bleeders…

I’ve always loved this poem. I like Poe because he wasn’t afraid to be musical and whimisicaly morose.  He was a bleeder. So am I. This is for you, all you bleeders.

“Alone”

BY EDGAR ALLAN POE

From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were—I have not seen
As others saw—I could not bring
My passions from a common spring—
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow—I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone—
And all I lov’d—I lov’d alone—
Then—in my childhood—in the dawn
Of a most stormy life—was drawn
From ev’ry depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still—
From the torrent, or the fountain—
From the red cliff of the mountain—
From the sun that ’round me roll’d
In its autumn tint of gold—
From the lightning in the sky
As it pass’d me flying by—
From the thunder, and the storm—
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view—

Source: American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century (1993)

I Read Good: Slouching Towards Bethlehem

Slouching Towards Bethlehem

by Joan Didion

I admit that although I have claimed some general interest in literary journalism as an art form, I am not all that well versed in some of the work of the big names. My primary interest has been the work of Dr. Thompson and Charles Bowden. The connection between those two writers of slightly different content and active periods was immediately evident and was a happy comfort zone of dissident tones. Clearly I am coming from a frame of reference that strays pretty far from journalism in its purest form. Because of my interest in counterculture of the 60s and more importantly the wake produced, I know that my education in New Journalism (a very outdated term now, indeed) was no where close to complete.

So, I decided to flesh out my education with a little Joan Didion.  Slouching Towards Bethlehem, the collection including her seminal work of the same name on the San Francisco counterculture  is a good place to start. I immediately noticed a striking difference between her work and that of the Thompson. There is a great obtuse feeling. Of course, with Hunter there is never a question of where he stands. He stands in the middle of it all and makes it clear who the characters are: who are the winners, losers, those you are to feel sorry and those you are to feel contempt.  Even in Didion’s most personal essays, I feel her distance.  Perhaps it is the old journalistic tenets showing through, but her style is also not objective. I sense her feelings, her sadness but she allows the space in between the lines tell the moral and the story.

I had a very mixed reaction to the book. The themes throughout the book are the same as many of the late 60s/early 70s authors: of moral decline, of an America in great contrast. In Slouching, the writing style, the space and ease which she slips between poetic and journalistic is striking and beautiful.  She does not glamorize the lost children she sees in San Francisco in any way.  I sense a vague judgement, but a kinship as well.  It seems like much of her writing style exists and lives within the realm of this dichotomy.  She presents the story as a journalist, seems like a friend to her subjects, and speaks to her audience in an interesting combination of lush literary flourish and journalistic brevity.

Hunter resonated with me immediately. Truthfully, he can be compared to the others in this generation only in as much as he was there and documented life as only he could. Bowden is an easier point of comparison than Didion would ever be, which is a topic for a different day. Perhaps what does not quite sit well with me is that Didion walks the line. She befriends the junkies of Haight Street, but she does nothing to contrast the way in which they had been portrayed by other media outlets.  I want to know where she stands.  She was just writing it like she sees it, I know.

Towards the end of the essay where she writes about the living conditions of one of the hippie families, I couldn’t help thinking of this and laughing:

But it’s not really like that; it is just that she is more like a traditional journalist in many ways than the outlaw journalists that I have come to love and I sense that dichotomy between traditional journalism and the need to present the story in layers, in space and poetry.

But here, again, I come back to Bowden and Thompson.  Yes, they tell the story.  Yes, they befriend the junkies but somewhere you know that Bowden and Thompson are invested completely in the deconstruction.  They lament what is broken, but there is no nostalgia for some America gone by.  Hunter is only nostalgic for the optimism and potential lost in the fray of America in the 60s and Bowden is nostalgic for the nature and the culture bulldozed by progress.  I sense in Didion’s work a nostalgia for “the way things used to be” – not just in ‘Slouching’  but in her  essays about crime, Howard Hughes, and her “writer’s notebook” essays.  I found that section of the book to be a bit frivolous. Although it’s always interesting to see behind the scenes, if you ever…for a few brief moments, saw yourself as a writer.  However,  I did not find her personals to be a great benefit to the book even though I nodded along on the importance of keeping a journal to capture small moments (“On Keeping a Notebook”).

I have to say the Yeats poem may have been my favorite part of the book. This isn’t meant to be a slam towards Didion but the poem itself lent so much context and layering to the work, that I can’t help but think that what’s left unsaid is not always the strongest message to be sent.

I would be interested to read more, in particular The Year of Magical Thinking but I don’t believe I’m up for that sort of bummer right now. As for my assessment of Slouching Towards Bethlehem, ah well, I’ve always been more attracted to the bull in the china shop approach. This isn’t a world to be written about delicately.

The Second Coming

By William Butler Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

 

33 Doom

We haven’t gone out to see live music much lately. We’ve both been fatigued and I’ve been feeling rather old with various boring middle-aged health complaints. Nothing serious.

Not to mention it’s late June in the Sonoran and sweaty apathy sets in pretty easily out here.

Not as much goes on but I feel guilty about missing out on bands, but at the end of the day or the week, you just want to get behind fortress walls.  If we enjoyed the experience of live music for networking or drinking, it would be easier, but although the friendships are rewarding, we have a SWAT team approach to music venues.  Get in, get out with as little bloodshed as possible. So, when it comes down to brass tacks (whatever that saying really means), our primary purpose is seeing the band and if anything about that experience is detrimental (crappy venue, for instance) the motivation goes right out the window. I had plenty of times in my 20s after I moved to Tempe where I crapped out on a night out in favor of the safety (see: lack of social interaction) of home but in my 30s, with no children and no real outside hobbies, it leaves me feeling a bit disappointed in myself. But you see, there are dishes to be done, laundry to attend to, the lizard pooped, lunches need to be made, there is some disgusting mess left that I must clean up. (Keep in mind here that there are NO CHILDREN in this scenario).

When I do imagine children in this scenario, my head just about explodes. Don’t get me wrong.  I do a lot of sitting around. I watch television in the evenings, often while Googling cures to embarrassing medical issues. But, as I told my mother when she came out recently, children aren’t out of the question, but I just get so damned overwhelmed already and I don’t have some screaming little drunk person to care for. I’ve always been easily overwhelmed.  It may be part of why I have never accomplished much outside of what was necessary.

With blessings come concessions; before blessings there are decisions and consequences. The overused and overwrought phrase, “having it all” or alternatively, “you can’t have it all,” rattles around in my head. You hear about this in the news, in morning show fluff pieces and Internet opinion pieces. I have never thought much about it, or the phrase.  However, as I sit enjoying some vice or hobby (whichever you may consider it), I am thinking of the concessions I have made to have the blessings I have now. Not one regret on the large scale decisions made.

“Blessings” is such a cliche word. Some implication of religious gift, although not always untrue, it’s often times not the word I am really looking for  I’m “lucky” to have had good fortune to be born into a good family, to have been given the opportunity to make good choices based on my socioeconomic status (privilege-based concepts for sure).  My point I think is to try and find a word that fits better than blessings to explain that I feel like I am at this very strange and “blessed” part of my life. The part where you are constantly reconciling what you know to be amazing good luck, blessings or whatever word fits (the dictionary is no help in this matter: boon, advantage, profit or bounty), to the everyday drudgery–the everyday nightmares of middle age in a middle class life.  No complaints allowed, from a societal standpoint, I say.  Boon City, USA. Bounty everywhere you turn. (Not quite, I am too cheap to buy Bounty…I get the generic brand.)

I guess what it comes down to is the unshakeable feeling that no matter who you are, what amazing luck you may have had, what riches you may own, what blessings surround you, there will always be your doubt; there will always be the everyday nightmares of some sort. These inconveniences, that we let get to us….the distractions we let placate us…the complaints we hold in out of good taste and the ones we let out like the howling nag; those are the everyday nightmares.  The thoughts that we could have been better, accomplished more, had more drive, asked for more, tried a bit harder.

I have been asking myself these questions, flogging myself for answers my whole life. Each year that went by, I’d promise or think, “This year, I will be better.” Just like everyone else does. I can only blame myself, as I am, to the naked eye at least, a poster child for privilege (no real argument from me there). The reasons for my consistent failure fall into two categories: 1) It’s an unreasonable expectation that I have no hope in a bazillion years of having the resources or skills to pull it off, 2) laziness, complacency, running around with the ankle weights of the everyday nightmares.

So…what’s this all about?  It’s about seeing and feeling that I am ridiculously fortunate to have a good job, a good partner, a pleasant place to live and some degree of financial comfort. And also feeling like a ridiculous failure whose dreams (outside of the middle-class American Dream that everyone hopes for) were out of my reach due to my own lack of fortitude, skill or pluck. It’s about facing those everyday nightmares when you wake until they wear you down and they feel as dangerous to your life as any of the real nightmares you face.

Actually, I  could sum all of this up in song I think. Maybe that’s why songs are so good at times like these.

So. To recap. I am a whiny 30 something with questionable life skills, who still holds on to some hope somewhere that it will all get easier.  “Stay away sweet misery, you’re not welcome anymore.” I have mundane tasks to attend to.

So, what I’ve got here is a case of 33 Doom. I’m still holding on to some hope that I may do something worthwhile with my life outside of my 8-5 job but it slips away amongst the everyday nightmares, amongst the aches and pains of gradual aging, amongst worries of biological clocks and my own pure laziness. It was not that long ago that it all seemed possible, less than 10 years ago. Now, it comes back to concessions. What concessions are you willing to make? Based on my previous performance, I will let the plans and poorly thought out self improvement goals slip away. I will complain about feeling old. I’ll jealously look at the creative, incredible, resilient people around me who are artists, writers, musicians, cooks, handy-folks, working mothers, working fathers and wonder how they do it.

The next rock show makes it feel better for a second, when you finally get up the gumption to go out. It’s a reminder that life is still fun, even if you’re not particularly good at it.

 

 

“I read good” Book Review: The Guy Under the Sheets: The Unauthorized Autobiography

The Guy Under the Sheets: The Unauthorized Autobiography

by Chris Elliot

My father and I were reflecting recently on surrealist humor and why we are so attracted to the bizarrely silly. I think Dad and I both pride ourselves on being up comedy. We have been Chris Elliott fans since his Late Night with David Letterman days. I think you could say we were drawn to him immediately…you know, due to the fact that he was so weird and pathetic. What’s not to love? So, I was wanting (and expecting) to receive Chris Elliott’s Unauthorized Autobiography as a gift from my Dad last year. He is an acquired taste, but I’ve always loved his affect, from Cabin Boy to Get a Life to playing Lily’s dad on How I Met Your Mother (“I’ve got diseases!”). (And Eagleheart, which I decided I can’t watch before bedtime because it sometimes gives me nightmares, but gee, I love it.)

Good lord, is this man silly! I can’t say I read this book quickly (it took me over 6 months to get through it. In my old age I have become a pretty slow reader, usually due to distraction.) The good news about this book is you can pick it up after a month and only vaguely remember where you were and it really doesn’t matter. There’s no real story (literally!) and you’re just in it for a good one-liner. It really is absurd though. I can’t tell you if I liked it or not. I laughed a lot. I cringed a little at how truly ridiculous it was. I thought it was an interesting writing device – to write your own unauthorized autobiography and by gum, if anyone can do that, it’s Chris. But at times, it teetered towards unfunny as it spiraled out of control.

The highlights:
His well-documented addiction to tartar sauce and other condiments. I giggled each time that came up.

The fact that he claimed his parents were Bette Davis and Sam Elliott. I particularly found the Sam Elliott jokes hilarious for some reason. (Particularly funny since Chris’ famous father, Bob Elliott often portrayed Chris’ father in films.)

When Chris developed hysterical blindness due to the eating death of his pet lobster, Snappy.

The oneliners. The only reason to read this book is for one-liners. As a whole, it’s too…bizarre and ridiculous to read as a BOOK. This is real breaking the 4th wall stuff. I didn’t get a lot of the references, and maybe my age was detrimental.

On the upside, it was filled with sex and violence. Mostly because Chris would keep accidentally (or on purpose) killing people throughout the book.

File this one under  a laugh out loud, bizarre, enjoyable waste of time. I do love me some Chris Elliott.

You kill me. You always know the perfect thing to say

In the last week (or so) we’ve gone from Minneapolis to Mesa, figuratively speaking. Next week, Tempe with The Maine. Tonight when Jimmy Eat World played Kill, I found that afterwards I couldn’t stop thinking, “I’ve always been an easy kill…I guess I always will.” In childhood, an overly sensitive, cry at the drop of a hat weirdo – making up some stories in her head on the playground, as she struggles to keep her internal monologue on the inside (which I still struggle with.) An easy kill. I can’t explain it any better. (Perhaps whiny baby?) Music made that okay for me. My gateway drug – came to me when I was about 13, which is the perfect age for such a thing. It was Doug Hopkins. (One could argue that Canada’s finest Bryan Adams perhaps started me on this path…a song of the week for the future, for sure! Waking up The Neighbors prepared me for things to come…) One could argue I dwell on this point too often, but I can’t help it. The Blossoms and Doug handed to me, on a platter: The Replacements, Dead Hot Workshop, The Church, The Cure, every Arizona band that I have fell in love with since the first mix tape was sent to me by a virtual stranger (who I later virtually married). If chance is a series of random connections, I can connect the dots clearly and see the major players here. Finding my pop voice, coupled with growing up in a house where music mattered and was to be placed under a…well, a cloudy microscope.

So, you have that recipe for disaster right there. Finding that place to fit in – with other people who got music, set me on a path. (The right one? Depends on who you ask.) It’s not just people who “get” music. It’s not music snobs or music teachers. We are the ones who feel it, carry it around, notes like butterflies in your stomach. It was a relief to know that I wasn’t the only one who felt the weight – been trying to find the right words to describe it for years. It kills me.

This week has highlighted that for me. Obviously, first with the Mats…who…is there a band that better expresses every thought or feeling I’ve ever had? Is that an exaggeration? I have been engrained with a deep love of snottiness, snark, silliness and truth. I see that our love was meant to be, Dear Mats. The experience of last Saturday – getting to see The Replacements live reminded me of being a kid again. The feeling of seeing your favorite band, shout the songs, putting aside the self consciousness for just a few moments and not caring how ridiculous you look when you sing or when tears roll down your face. I held it together pretty good, I think, but suffice it to say that calling it an emotional experience would be appropriate.

Then, tonight, Jimmy Eat World, which is all about the karate kick to the jugular – musically, lyrically. I can’t help but be moved. The live show certainly takes that to the next level with the sweat and the energy and the crowd all singing their whoah whoahs in perfect time. It makes me think of another Jimmy Eat World song, Coffee and Cigarettes,…and how the nights staying up until 5 am and watching the sun come up all because you started talking about a song…and just never stopped, are hours not wasted.

A song I know about one of my rock and roll pin up boys put it very well, “it’s got some kid shaking, isn’t that okay?” I’m an easy kill, what can I say?

Not A Word About It

 

I’m not sure if I still have anything to say…well, write.  I’ve never had much to say, but I used to have lots to write about. A lot of feelings and thoughts I wanted to express in some way.

It was a combination of things really – growing up a bit and not feeling the need to roll around in my own mess – busy – tired – happy.  I’ve had to re-imagine my creative self into this new box. A more cheerful, less dramatic version of myself and I’m not exactly sure how that relates to who I was creatively before. It was easier when I was a young kid, angry and trying to emulate all of my junkie heroes.  Now, it’s harder – for a weekend rocker, corporate gig, not-so-angry type girl to figure out where that voice went and if it’s still relevant to who I’ve become.

“There was this burning, just like there’s always been…” Yes, that is true. It’s not that I’ve changed that much – it’s almost like the circumstances changed around me and I can’t help but be affected by my surroundings. When I was a teenager, I wanted to understand why I was so different. It was easy to be cynical, even with the expansive rolling possibility that stretched out before me. In my 20s, it was about stomping around, experience and getting your yearn on. Do it, we could be dead tomorrow.  In my 30s now, it’s a strange sensation.  Okay, I get it now. You made your choices while you weren’t even paying attention.  Ranked them all by importance.  One ranked particularly high, above all others. You got it, you did it, we made it. You can’t complain now, you acheived goal one. But is this it? Was that goal acheived at the detriment of all others?

I can relate to when Stephen Ashbrook sings, “I’m sorry if I get tired. It’s been rock and roll at any cost.” So, now, happily married in my 30s to the OTHER element that consumed my twenties, and with the rock and roll part under control, I am left feeling a little bit confused.  Not unhappy, but just wondering what the next big thing is for a girl who has always needed a next big thing. That’s part of why I started this.  I want to feel connected to my creative life again, even if it’s just re-telling the true tales of a never-was.

 

A year in pop songs

This year I am going to indulge a bit and give some thought to some of my favorite songs. A year of Pop Songs: Jangle, Brit-Pop, Powerpop…the only real common thread is the feeling you get in your chest from a well-formed pop song.

1/1 – Doing the Unstuck – The Cure (Wish)
I can’t think of a better song to kick off a new year. Doing the Unstuck is one of my favorite Cure songs off of one of the best Brit-pop records. Jangly? Check. Musical gravitas? Check. Let’s get happy! Check. “Tear out the pages with all the bad news”…”it’s a perfect day to throw back your head and kiss it all goodbye.”

1/12 – A year in pop songs: Aussiepop. For those of us who are still thinking about resolutions two weeks into January…This song is great for a “get pumped” mix (as it was for me traversing international immigrations) but it’s just a great powerpop song. It’s not brain surgery but it makes you feel good. I am sure Kisschasy will make it into my list more than once this year.

1/22 – A Year in Pop Songs: In honor of the cold snap (thankfully the closest we get to winter)…and then the perfect weather we had afterwards…For your consideration, “Mr. Winter,” which has the ‘coolest’ opening riff.

2/2 – A Year in Pop Songs: I just heard this song for the first (I think) time this week. Mark has been telling me for years that I should check these guys out and I was really glad I did this week. I’ve often been heard saying that music should be more fun and there’s no shortage of that here. Not saving the whales, but I LOVE songs like this. I have simple tastes though – I could fill up mixtape after mixtape of songs at the same pace, and likely with the same three chords, and I would never get tired of it. This song is quite also suitable for a revenge mix. The fan made video is pretty cute too.

2/14 – A Year in Pop Songs: Hey, I know Valentine would be more appropriate, and there are more mushy Paul songs out there, but this is one of my favorite Paul songs. It’s big, fun, lustful and joyful – the way love should be. And I am sure that tonight my valentine and I will love everything that they hate.

2/22 – Domo, how can I just choose one Domo song?! Do I go with 88 Measures to Make Things Great? Meltbreakdown? Honestly? With Friends Like These? Domo, our first local entry in my year of pop songs, are purveyors of fine powerpop at the highest level. Need a happy song about murder? They have it! Want to break up with someone? Let Domo handle it for you! Today, I have decided to go with Middle Class Life…a end-of-week beacon, for sure. A suitable commute soundtrack that I recommend singing loudly as your small protest.

3/7 – Year in pop songs: Tommy Keene makes my ventricles hurt. When Mark and I were kids we’d refer to the feeling as being ‘there.’ ie. “that song is so -there-“…A term that was our way of trying to define a completely undefinable feeling you get from a song or the sky. And surely as vague as our little code word implied.

3/19 – A year in pop songs: Last Monday, Mark and I had the pleasure of seeing Green Day at the Marquee Theatre. A small venue for a huge band – they didn’t need to do that. They would make more money if they played one of our many large concert venues, but they did it anyway. I don’t have an interest in very many national bands. I can’t get into most of the new indie-cred bands, even though I know I’m SUPPOSED to. But I am a girl who was raised on rock and a sense of fun and there’s just nothing that fun about pencil mustaches. I am sorry, there’s not. This is a band that has straddled the genres and been knocked for that. Yeah, their sound isn’t super diverse, but I knows what I likes. Green Day makes me want to be a better person – to sing louder, shout more, have fun, do stage jumps, while maintaining whatever antiestablishment mentality you can in our current reality. It’s nice to have a national band that is so consistent. It was hard to pick one here…yet another band that is saving the powerpop anthem.

3/27 – Such an obvious choice for song of the week, Mark Ord! I think R.E.M. was the first band that I had enough awareness of to know all the members names, which is a big thing when you’re 8. Jangle.

4/10 – A year in pop songs: In honor of the Black Moods CD release this past weekend and the fun that was had, Don’t Let Them Get You Down. God bless Petty-esque pop songs (and the Black Moods!) Go get ‘um boys.

4/29 – This pop song of the week is brought to you by Genevelyn Ord and the continent of Australia. I like bass playing lead singers too – and no, not the obvious ones like Sting, who I am ambivalent about at best. And vests need to make a comeback for men – seriously. But like rock vests, not ironic 1800’s vests. It’s that little bit of flair that your shirt just didn’t have.

5/11 – Song of the Week: Big Casino. Powerpop Weekend, yay! Last night’s Jimmy Eat World concert was notable for a few reasons. First, I have never been to a concert where more adult men turned into ecstatic screaming girls. It made me very happy to see music fans like that. Second, it marks the first time I have seen them live. It was great how they are able to translate their songs into a live format and not lose any of the gravitas and energy. Their songs have that “ton of bricks to the chest” sort of vibe, and they capture that live. This song was on the setlist last night- Cool video. I like the message of the song as I stumble through my 30s and negotiate the passage of time.

5/26 – Pop song of the week: P.S. by Toad the Wet Sprocket. This is a stinkin’ cool video of one of my favorite Toad songs. Toad, like a few other bands from the 90s, take you to some pretty dark places in a jangled and disarming way. It’s artistic without being pretentious and sometimes either lyrically or by the structure of the music (see: Crazy Life) it just hurts down to the bone. Glen reminds me of John O from the Maine in this. I think it’s the hair.

6/3 – Song of the week: Love and Drugs – The Maine. Very excited about their Zia in store tonight and the release show tomorrow at Tempe Marketplace. Mark and I listened to a 2 hr and 40 minute AP Podcast with them on the way to (and from!) Prescott this weekend. It’s always so good to hear a band that GETS it – and isn’t cynical about the very cool job they have and are uncompromising about the music they make. If Love and Drugs is any indication of the record, I expect to enjoy it. They make me feel like a kid again.

6/21 – Pop song of the week! I was a late comer to the Plimsouls, although I always really loved Robin’s cover of Oldest Story in the World, but hadn’t delved into their catalog until the last few years. Everywhere at Once is a stinkin’ great record. I remember loving this song when it would come on at work back in the retail days. The video is really cool in that lovely 1983 way. Peter Case is dreamy in it too – which doesn’t hurt.

7/8 – Pop Song of the Week: Nixon Saves – Dead Hot Workshop. I would like to do a PHD in Babb – a dissertation wouldn’t even begin to cover it. DHW is the Eva Gabor of music. They will not hurt you.
#nothingbutasoppingwettubesock

8/1 – Pop song of the week…or whenever I actually get around to it clearly…Aussie version. Hoodoo Gurus have many a song to choose from but this is one of my favorites and reminds me of some fun times. Come Anytime? Australia, don’t mind if I do!

8/9 – Song of the week! We haven’t been waking up to the radio but if we were it would be this song every morning…at least that is what happened during the 2 and a half years I lived in Australia. It was Groundhog’s Day level comic. I would assume that the Choirboys are the REO Speedwagon of AU. It’s a guilty pleasure, but I always find myself listening a second time. (“Again!”)
http://youtu.be/AWrW3qJ2HOA

8/18 – Pop Song of the Week Aussie Edition. We’re back in the U.S. now, so what would be more appropriate than my favorite Australian band performing the song that essentially brought us to this point – a love affair with a song, a band, Mark Ord, a desert place. It has made us our own island to some extent. Mark is a 16 hour flight (and countless airport wait hours) from home. (I’m a three hour flight, not too much room to complain.) It’s hard sometimes – we definitely felt that this week. We have lived in a constant state of goodbyes. First between he and I, now the families we leave behind. It’s all for having found our place in the world which started (more or less) with the original version of this song. I have heard about a million Hey Jealousy covers. This is my favorite one – I think it’s pretty true to the original. This is a band that understands pop music and although trends towards a hard rock/emo mentality at times, always has the pop sensibility running through their work.

http://youtu.be/u83vAQg6RWE

8/29 – Pop song of the week: Let’s just say: I indeed WILL dare.

9/14 – Song of the week: It was DAMN hard choosing a BTE song. Partially because of the emotional connection that I may have to the songs, but also…just such a good band. (Bring me the 90s, just bring it to me!) I believe that Better Than Ezra goes on record as being the only one of “my bands” (or my “wussy” bands) that my Dad actually willingly went to go see with me because he actually liked them. I think he was impressed that they were a three piece, had a big full sound and had some rockers in their repertoire. I didn’t CHOOSE one of those rockers to represent, but instead chose a song with “feelings” associated with it. This record came out August 25, 1998. ’98 was sort of a big deal for me. It is a bit wussy, but it says what needs to be said.

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