Theme Songs from Periods of Your Life

Let’s keep the momentum of both the gym and the writing going! I’m really getting back into a musical groove–at the end of each year, I like to put together a mix CD of some of my favorite songs released in the year. I’ve got a title for this year’s collection (not ready for announcement yet), and I know of at least eight songs that will be going on the album, but I still have some listening and deciding to do. However, that will not be an excuse to not exercise and move the alphabetical journey forward. I’d like to get to ‘F’ before Christmas.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

3.28 miles on the elliptical machine at the gym

  • Easy’s Getting Harder Every Day–Iris DeMent
  • Eat Cannibals–Toto Coelo
  • Eat for Two–10,000 Maniacs
  • Eat for Two [live]–10,000 Maniacs
  • Ebay–Weird Al Yankovic
  • Ebony & Ivory [live]–Paul McCartney
  • Ebony & Ivory–Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder
  • Echoes–Set Your Goals
  • Echos Myron–Guided by Voices
  • Eclipse–Pink Floyd
  • The Ecstasy of Gold–Metallica
  • Eddie–Rocky Horror Picture Show cast
  • Edelweiss–Sound of Music cast
  • Edelweiss [reprise]–Sound of Music cast
  • Edelweiss Waltz–Sound of Music cast
  • Eden–10,000 Maniacs

It’s ironic that I got three 10,000 Maniacs songs today because that band gave me my first taste of today’s leadoff artist, Iris DeMent. One of 10,000 Maniacs CD singles (I believe the one for “Few & Far Between”) had an unplugged cover of DeMent’s “Let The Mystery Be” by 10,000 Maniacs and David Byrne. Now at the time, the Talking Heads were my favorite band and the Maniacs were not that far behind, so I was already predisposed to like the song, and sure enough, it is a favorite to this day. The lyrics and the melding of Byrne and Merchant make it one of my favorite covers ever. Now, my love of the song did not spur me to go out and purchase any of Iris DeMent’s catalogue–my wife is the fan. But hearing her distinctive voice and gospel-tinged music has made me a fan as well, and right now, “Easy’s Getting Harder Every Day” seems like an appropriate theme song for my life.

After “Eat Cannibals”, a quintessential 80’s tune, I got to hear studio and live versions of 10,000 Maniacs song that also served as a sort-of theme for my life at one point. Both my wife and I are fans of the group, so when she was pregnant with our twins, I would play this song and sing along, only substituting “three” for “two” whenever the chorus came up–I know, I know;  an early example of the quality humor you’ve grown (or groan) to expect from reading this column. The third 10,000 Maniacs song closed my list today, and it was the pseudo-title track from “Our Time in Eden”, which was a great album from them, one that unfortunately turned out to be the Merchant version of the band’s last.

I think everyone should just take a minute and reflect on how successful “Weird Al” Yankovic has been at his niche within the music industry and for how long. 30+ years of parodying the sound and style of so many pop artists, and what’s amazing is how good a job he does getting down the sound and style of each artist (for those that haven’t heard it, “Ebay” is a parody of “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys). I am typing this while watching the 12.12.12 concert, and I honestly believe Al deserved a set on this night more than some of the artists that did play.

One artist that is going to play tonight (and close the show, I think) is Paul McCartney, and I got two versions of “Ebony & Ivory”, one from his 1989 concert tour. Now I love Paul McCartney–I saw him in concert twice in college–but I think he should not sing the song live with another white guy taking Wonder’s part. I think it just defeats the purpose of the song. Another participant tonight, Roger Walters, showed up with his Pink Floyd mates for “Eclipse”, although first I got to hear one of my son’s bands, Set Your Goals, and a little Guided by Voices as well.

After some live Metallica, I got a song my daughter loves (a Rocky Horror Picture Show number) and a trio of songs my mother loves (anything from her favorite film, The Sound of Music). Luckily, neither of these two songs would have ever made appropriate theme songs for any period of my life, as I never was a rebellious biker or living in a Nazi-occupied land.

Midseason Replacement

The fan campaign was an amazing success! For those that didn’t know, I haven’t posted a blog for two months because my blog was put on hiatus. The WordPress network wanted to give their new fall blogs a chance, so I got pushed off the schedule. But the legion of devoted fat-to-fit-with-music fans would not stand it. They wrote impassioned emails, staged sit-ins, threatened sponsor boycotts, wore their FTFWM apparel in signs of solidarity and finally had their voices heard, particularly when a number of the new blogs failed to get big ratings.

That’s the story and I am sticking with it…plus it makes so much more sense than I got lazy first on the writing front and second on the exercise front, right? So it’s great to be back–while gone, I finished up the D’s, so today’s gym visit featured some music early in the E-starting section.

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

3.40 miles on the elliptical machine at the gym

  • Earth Angel–Death Cab for Cutie
  • Earth Stopped Cold at Dawn–Hootie & The Blowfish
  • Ease Off the Liquor–Timbaland
  • Easier To Walk Away–Elton John
  • East Jesus Nowhere–Green Day
  • East Northumberland High–Miley Cyrus
  • East of Eden–Lone Justice
  • East St. Louis Toodle-oo–Steely Dan
  • Easy–Barenaked Ladies
  • Easy Money–Billy Joel
  • Easy Money–Bruce Springsteen
  • Easy on Yourself–Drive-by Truckers
  • Easy Silence–Dixie Chicks
  • Easy Skanking–Bob Marley
  • Easy There, Steady Now–Richard Thompson

What better way to get back into the swing of things than with a 50’s cover from my favorite obscure soundtrack! I’m fairly certain that I’ve shared the tale of my Stubbs the Zombie album, but as a quick recap–I was at a partner meeting at my last job and they took us into their sample closet and let us do some free shopping. There I found a single copy of the soundtrack to a video game I’d never heard of, but I was interested to hear what Death Cab for Cutie and the Dandy Warhols would do with rock ‘n roll standards, so it was the only item I took. It has been in heavy rotation ever since (and we’ll get to it later, but my favorite number comes from an artist that I did not know before, Clem Snide–although the Flaming Lips track is pretty good too.

I am not as familiar with the Hootie numbers from their second album, but I enjoyed today’s selection. All three of my kids are taking substance abuse classes this year in high school, and I think Timbaland’s “Ease Off the Liquor” would be an excellent addition to the syllabus. It is great advice, after all–and maybe the kids would listen to a music star like him as opposed to a teacher. Elton John followed with a deeper cut off his box set, and that was followed by a more recent track from Green Day, one that would have been from their most recent album until they released the 3 CDs of Uno-Dos-Tre in the past few month. While I admire the creativity of Green Day’s album-releasing strategy, it makes me sad as I lament the loss of the double (or in this case) triple album. Remember Sandinista by the Clash? These days, there seems like there’s no way a triple album like that will be released.

The packrat in me really needs to let up so I can remove some of the Disneyish music from our collection that I believe our children would no longer miss. I don’t mean to denigrate Miss Miley Cyrus, and I’d probably keep some of her hits, but the deep album cuts are not something I’d miss. If I got rid of any Lone Justice, I would miss them–they are another one of those bands that I tend to ignore, but really enjoy when I take the time to listen to them. My directional section ended with the long instrumental number from Steely Dan, one that reminds us how rarely you hear the term “toodle-oo” these days.

The list gets “Easy”, starting with old friends the Barenaked Ladies. I believe the Billy Joel song “Easy Money” is from the movie of the same name starring the late, great Rodney Dangerfield (in an acting stretch, Dangerfield plays a goofy slob who runs afoul of uptight rich people). The Springsteen version of “Easy Money” comes from his most recent album, and it’s a candidate for my “Best of 2012” mix CD, which I am in the process of creating.

The next two songs come from two of the musical acts I have been most excited to add to my rotation in the last seven years. I’m sorry that Shonna Tucker has left Drive-By Truckers, as I enjoyed her vocal additions to the band. But if I want country-themed music driven by strong women, I can always put on the Dixie Chicks. “Easy Silence” is from their (to-date) last album, Taking the Long Way. It’s a great album and I highly recommend it. Bob Marley followed and taught me that “skank” can be part of a gerund (Who Knew!) and my list closed with Fran-favorite Richard Thompson.